The California Supreme Court has been asked by the U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco to provide guidance on the question of whether California statutory or common law grants owners of pre-1972 sound recordings an exclusive right of public performance. This guidance is key to a lawsuit brought by Flo & Eddie, Inc.—owner of…

Flo & Eddie, Inc.—owner of recordings by 1960s pop group The Turtles and created by former Turtles vocalists Mark “Flo” Volman and Howard “Eddie” Kaylan—has sustained a decisive blow in its attempt to recover damages from satellite and Internet broadcaster Sirius XM Radio for broadcasting and reproducing pre-1972 sound recordings without permission—at least with respect…

A seller of computer aided design (CAD) files used for steel detailing services could have infringed a software provider’s CAD program by downloading an unauthorized copy of the program, the U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco has held. There was a genuine issue of material fact as to whether the unauthorized download was more…

The proprietors of a muscle car restoration business, Dan and Gary Pronman, were liable for the attorney fees incurred by the operators of a complaint website in successfully defending against frivolous copyright infringement claims based on the website operators’ allegedly unlawful reproduction and publication of copyrighted photographs owned by the Pronmans, the U.S. Court of…

A seller of karaoke equipment whose insurance carrier paid over $1 million to music publishers to settle infringement claims over the alleged unlicensed distribution of song recordings, in exchange for dismissal of the claims with prejudice, was not the “prevailing party” for purposes of the Copyright Act’s fee-shifting provision, the U.S. Court of Appeals in…

Four children of the deceased gospel music composer and publisher Albert Brumley successfully terminated Brumley’s assignment of the copyright to the song “I’ll Fly Away” to their brother, Robert, the U.S. Court of Appeals in Cincinnati has held (Brumley v. Albert E. Brumley & Sons, Inc., May 16, 2016, Sutton, J.). The Copyright Act allowed…

A 2001 letter from an attorney representing the heirs of Superman co-creator Jerome Siegel effectively transferred all copyrights in the Superman character to DC Comics, the U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco has decided (Larson v. Warner Bros Entertainment, February 10, 2016, per curiam). Siegel’s daughter, Laura Siegel Larson, could not go forward with…

A copyright claim brought by hip-hop artist Tyrone Simmons—who purchased an exclusive license to use a beat known as the “I Get Money Instrumental”—against the beat’s creator (William Stanberry, Jr.) and a group of defendants associated with rapper Curtis Jackson, known professionally as “50 Cent,” who used the beat in a hit song, was time-barred…

The assignee of the rights to a screenplay by actress and author Emma Thompson about the life of historical figure Euphemia Gray (Effie Film, LLC) should not have been granted an award of nearly $500,000 in attorney fees and costs that it incurred in successfully seeking a declaratory judgment that its screenplay did not infringe…

The Batmobile, as it appeared in the Batman comic books, television series, and motion picture, was entitled to copyright protection because, as an “automotive character,” it was a sufficiently distinctive element of those works, the U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco has held (DC Comics v. Towle, September 23, 2015, Ikuta, S.). The Ninth…