Decisions in Brief

Decisions in Brief

John C. Gatz

©2017. Published in Landslide, Vol. 9, No. 3, January/February 2017, by the American Bar Association. Reproduced with permission. All rights reserved. This information or any portion thereof may not be copied or disseminated in any form or by any means or stored in an electronic database or retrieval system without the express written consent of the American Bar Association or the copyright holder.


Court Allows Defendant’s Work-for-Hire Challenge to Plaintiff’s Copyright Ownership

Urbont v. Sony Music Entm’t., 831 F.3d 80, 119 U.S.P.Q.2d 1619 (2nd Cir. 2016). In 1966, composer Jack Urbont wrote an Iron Man theme song for a Marvel super heroes TV show. The song was featured on two tracks of Ghostface Killa’s 2000 album Supreme Clientele. No permission was sought for using the song. Urbont sued Sony Entertainment as the producers of the album, along with other defendants, for copyright infringement in 2011. The district court granted Sony’s motion for summary judgment based in large part on Sony’s argument that Urbont did not own the copyright in the Iron Man theme song because it was a work made for hire for Marvel. Urbont appealed, arguing that Sony didn’t have standing to challenge his ownership of the copyright under a work-for-hire theory and that the district court overlooked questions of material fact on his substantive claims.

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