U.S. News | Musicians File Class Action Copyright Suit against Sony Music

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Last week, a group of musicians filed a class action in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York against Sony Music alleging that the defendant unlawfully stopped them from reclaiming their copyright.

The lawsuit was filed by David Johansen, John Lyon, and Paul Collins on behalf of hundreds of other musicians in the same situation the suit said.

The defendants argue that Sony Music violated a clause in the Copyright Act which allows authors of music a second chance to reclaim copyright from the grants made already in their early careers.

The lawsuit argues that Sony Music refused to give them ownership of music they recorded under contract with Sony as artists have served several notices of termination but Sony had failed to give listening ear to the notices despite the second chance concept that allows recording artists to serve a notice of termination to revoke the grant of rights made to a record label 35 years after the publication of the relevant recordings.

“The purpose of the second chance concept was to protect authors because of the impossibility of an author determining his or her work’s prior value until it has been exploited” – the artists said in the lawsuit.

The filing said Johansen and Lyon entered into a recording agreement with Sony in 1978. Collins entered into a recording agreement with the company in 1979. In 2015, all three artists served notices of termination to Sony, which refused to honour them, the filing alleged.

Sony Music alleged that the recordings were made by artists under contract with them and the works were made for hire according to contractual recording agreement signed with the artists. This is why Sony refused to allow the artists to take control of the recordings or get into another agreement with a different record label.

The complaint said the Sony Music denied the artists the benefits of ownership in the U.S. to the relevant sound recordings.

The plaintiffs’ claims Sony has exploited their recordings and infringed on their copyright while also making it unavailable for sale which the Copyright Act expressly guarantees.

The musicians are seeking declaratory relief and up to $150,000 in damages.

Johansen et al v. SONY MUSIC ENTERTAINMENT INC., et al

New York Southern District Court
Judge:Edgardo Ramos
Case #:1:19-cv-01094
Nature of SuitCopyrights
CauseCopyright Infringement
Case Filed:Feb 05, 2019
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About Nathaniel Adebayo 623 Articles
Nathaniel is a News Reporting Intern at Nigerian Law Intellectual Property Watch (NLIPW). He has a passion for writing, capacity building and social media marketing. He is a graduate of Federal University of Technology, Minna, where he graduated with BTECHAGRIC. He is a member of Soil Science Society of Nigeria (SSSN) and the National Union of Campus Journalist (NUCJ). Nathaniel has served as Editor-in-Chief for a number of magazines and as a contributor to various online repositories. Email: anathaniel@nlipw.com