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First off today, Devin Coldewey at TechCrunch reports that Google has emerged victorious in a lawsuit filed by the music lyric site Genius over Google’s scraping of their information.
The lawsuit was filed back in December when Genius revealed, with convincing evidence, that Google was scraping lyrics from their site and placing them in search results. This would mean that Google was using Genius’ own data to give people what they were searching for without the need to visit the Genius website.
The problem, however, is that Genius is the not the copyright holder in the lyrics, so they sued in state court alleging unfair business conduct. However, the state court has now dismissed that case saying that the claims are preempted by the federal copyright act. This puts Genius in a bind as they aren’t the owners of the lyrics. As such, they can’t sue for copyright infringement but their current claims have been preempted by copyright law.
Next up today, Eriq Gardner at The Hollywood Reporter Esquire reports that a judge has announced he will issue a declaratory judgment on the issue of whether musicians are able to terminate their copyright agreements with their record labels.
Under the Copyright Act of 1976, authors and creators can terminate copyright grants after a period of 35 years. However, according to a pair of class action lawsuits, Sony and UMG have been ignoring notices of termination, claiming that the music was either recorded as a “work for hire” or that the notices were filed too late.
Specifically, the judge said he is willing to issue a declaratory judgment on the issue of whether “work for hire” agreements between artists and labels are valid. This is of particular importance to musicians from the late 1980s into 1990s, when such agreements were common. A declaratory judgment could find those termination notices either provisionally valid or invalid depending on further fact-finding and arguments in the case.
Finally today, Cameron Sunkel at EDM.com reports that musician Missy Elliott has filed a lawsuit against music producer Terry Williams in a bid to confirm that she is the sole copyright holder in a series of songs that they recorded together.
According to the lawsuit, Eilliot and Williams worked together in the early 1990s on a series of 34 unreleased sound recordings. Williams attempted to sell those back to Elliott in 2017, prompting Elliot to file a lawsuit on the grounds that it was a breach of contract.
However, that lawsuit was tossed after Elliot acknowledged that there was no contract between them. Now she has filed a second lawsuit, this time seeking a declaratory judgment that she is the sole copyright holder and prevent Williams from exploiting the recordings in any way.