Wednesday, May 15, 2013

[Updated] Court withdraws much of its ruling exonerating MP3Tunes in Capitol Records v MP3Tunes

Update with correction: Hat tip to Barry Werbin of Herrick, Feinstein LLP, Chairperson of the New York City Bar Association’s Copyright and Literary Property Law Committee, who pointed out to me what I had missed -- where in his opinion Judge Pauley partially granted a defendant's motion for reconsideration:
On page 13, the court opens up the direct infringement judgment previously issued against Robertson only as to "EMI's ownership of the copyrights for two of the songs he sideloaded, ‘White Christmas’ by Frank Sinatra and ‘Devil in Me’ by 22-20s, because Plaintiffs did not provide registrations for those copyrights... Further, EMI relies on copyrights registered as compilations for thirteen of the songs Robertson sideloaded. Because compilations contain pre-existing constituent works that may have been fixed prior to February 15, 1972 or that may have been previously registered by another owner, Robertson has created an issue of fact with respect to those songs."

So defendant’s Roberson's motion was granted in part to that limited extent

My original post was as follows:

In Capitol Records v. MP3Tunes, in which the Court had been asked to reconsider its earlier decision, in light of the Second Circuit's subsequent ruling in Viacom v. YouTube, the record companies' motion has been granted almost entirely, and the defendants' motions denied.*

The district court:

-accepted the record companies' argument that there were several documents in the record which a jury could reasonably have interpreted as requiring further inquiry into specific and identifiable instances of infringement, thus possibly triggering the 'wilful blindness' issue and requiring explicit fact-finding
-"reluctantly" accepted the record companies' argument that MP3Tunes's "red flag" knowledge could not be resolved on summary judgment
-denied the record companies' request for reinstatement of their seperate "inducement" claim
-rejected defendants' argument that the algorithm which copied plaintiffs' cover art was covered by the DMCA safe harbor
-rejected defendant Robertson's argument that his personal liability for 'sideloading' some files due to evidence of an implied license by virtue of the record companies' making free downloads available
-rejected defendant Robertson's argument that the district court in New York did not have personal jurisdiction over him
-rejected defendant Robertson's argument that the vicarious liability claim against him should be dismissed

Memorandum and Order granting plaintiffs' motions for reconsideration and denying defendants' motions

*Although the decision states that defendants' motions were partially granted, I could not find any part of the decision which granted any part of defendants' motions. If you find anything, please shoot me a comment and let me know so I can correct this blog post. Thanks. -R.B.


Kent said...

So Ray, what does this mean to the music consumer?

raybeckerman said...

I would say what this particular decision means to the consumer is... nothing. It's just a lower court decision trying to follow Viacom v. YouTube.

But I feel that the rulings in Viacom v. YouTube meant that no one except a multibillion dollar corporation like Google can litigate with the record industry over things that would appear to be covered by the DMCA "safe harbor".

Bottom line, the internet freedom the DMCA safe harbor was intended to create is being eroded, and the choices for consumers are -- as the record companies want them to be -- limited.