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First off today, Mark Hamblett at the New York Law Journal reports that the Second Circuit Court of Appeals has asked the state court in New York to determine whether there is a right to public performance under state common law and, if so, what is the nature and scope of that right.
The case stems from a lawsuit filed by Flo & Eddie of the band The Turtles, who filed a lawsuit against Sirius XM Radio alleging that they were not being paid royalties for performances of their music. Sirius, however, argued that since their song recordings were pre-1972, meaning they were not protected under federal copyright law, that there was no such obligation for them to pay royalties for public performances.
The lower court ruled against Sirius in the case, holding that there was a public performance right but the appeals court accepted an interlocutory appeal and hinted that they were skeptical of whether such a performance right exists but they are asking the New York state courts for a ruling on the matter before deciding.
Next up today, Ashley Cullins at The Hollywood Reporter Esquire reports that, in the Blurred Lines case, the judge has formally denied legal fees to the Marvin Gaye estate, saying that the case centered around unique issues and, other than the estate’s victory at a jury trial, there is no indication that the awarding of legal fees are warranted.
The case centers around the song Blurred Lines by Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams, which heirs Marvin Gaye felt it was an infringement of his song Got To Give it Up. Thicke and Williams proactively sued but, when the case made it to trial the jury sided with the Gaye estate, ruling the song to be an infringement. The jury award of $7.4 million was reduced to $5.3 million plus 50 percent of the song’s future royalties.
The Gaye estate also asked for some $3.5 million in legal fees but the judge ruled that there was no justification. However, the Gaye estate will be awarded some of its legal expenses, including for expert witnesses and deposition transcripts. However, even there they will only be eligible for 65 percent because of a failed legal case over another song. The judge also asked for an amended request from the Gaye estate by April 21 to determine the final amount.
Finally today, Arunima Banerjee at Reuters reports that Ronald Dickerson, a New York playwright, has filed a lawsuit against Warner Brothers, MGM and Showtime Networks alleging that the upcoming film Barbershop: The Next Cut uses scenes and elements from his stage play Scissors.
The lawsuit, which was filed in New York, seeks an injunction blocking the release of the film, which is due to be released Friday, and claims that the plot, themes, characters and situation are similar to his work.
Scissors was a stage play that toured the country from 1998-2001. The Barbershop film series, of which The Next Cut is the third, began in 2002. Both stories center on a hair salon in an African-American neighborhood and focus on interactions between customers and barbers as well as events unfolding in the community.
That’s it for the three count today. We will be back tomorrow with three more copyright links. If you have a link that you want to suggest a link for the column or have any proposals to make it better. Feel free to leave a comment or send me an email. I hope to hear from you.