Justia New York Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Copyright
Plaintiff was a corporation owned by two of the original members of The Turtles, a band most famous for its song “Happy Together.” Plaintiff controlled the master recordings of approximately 100 Turtles songs recorded before 1972. Defendant, the nation’s largest satellite digital radio service, broadcast pre-1972 Turtles songs but did not have licenses with the performers or sound recording copyright-holders and did not pay them for broadcasts. Plaintiff commenced this federal putative class action alleging common-law copyright infringement and unfair competition. The federal district court denied Defendant’s motion for summary judgment, concluding that New York common law includes a right to control public performances of pre-1972 copyrighted sound recordings. The court of appeals certified a question to the Court of Appeals regarding an unresolved issue of New York copyright law. The Court of Appeals answered that New York common-law copyright does not recognize a right of public performance for creators of sound recordings. View "Flo & Eddie, Inc. v Sirius XM Radio, Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Copyright
Plaintiff Paul Ellington, an heir and grandson of Duke Ellington, filed this breach of contract action to recover royalties allegedly due under a royalty provision contained in a 1961 United States copyright renewal Agreement between Duke Ellington and Mills Music, Inc., now EMI Music, Inc. The Agreement assigned to a “Second Party” - defined as consisting of a group of music publishers including Mills Music - the right to renew the copyright to certain music compositions written by Duke Ellington, subject to the payment of royalties. The royalty provision of the Agreement required the Second Party to pay Duke Ellington and named members of his family a percentage of the net revenue received from a foreign publication of the musical publication. Plaintiff claimed that by using affiliated foreign subpublishers, EMI breached the Agreement by diluting Plaintiff’s share of the royalties. Supreme Court dismissed the complaint in its entirety, and the Appellate Division affirmed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the disputed terms of the Agreement were clear and unambiguous and that the Appellate Division correctly held that Plaintiff did not state a cause of action for breach of the Agreement. View "Ellington v. EMI Music, Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Contracts, Copyright