January 15, 2018 Decisions in Brief

Decisions in Brief

By John C. Gatz

©2018. Published in Landslide, Vol. 10, No. 3, Janusry/February 2018, 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.


Co-Author Has Right to Create Derivative Works

BMG Rights Mgmt., LLC v. Atl. Recording Corp., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 136404 (S.D.N.Y 2017). The plaintiffs are co-owners of the copyright in the song “Came to Do,” which was released on the album X by Chris Brown in September 2014. “Came to Do” was composed around June of 2014, and was later recorded by Brown, featuring the musical artist Akon, before being released on Brown’s album. Shortly thereafter Brown, along with the defendants DJ Mustard and Omarion, authored the song “Post to Be,” which was first released as a single song in November 2014, and later appeared on an album. The plaintiffs alleged that “Post to Be” is an unauthorized derivative work of “Came to Do,” and sought an injunction forbidding further acts of copyright infringement, damages, recovery of profits, and a declaratory judgment setting forth the proportion of the publishing royalties due the plaintiffs in the future from the exploitation of “Came to Do.” The defendants sought a motion to dismiss the claims, contending that they cannot be liable for copyright infringement because Brown is a joint author and joint owner of both songs.

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