Blank Productions v. Warner/Chappell Music

U.S. DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK
Intellectual Property

New York Law Journal

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Judge Kimba Wood

Warner/Chappell Music (WCM) holds copyrights to songs allegedly infringed by the Blank plaintiffs' karaoke recordings. WCM never authorized Blank Productions' use of its copyrighted works nor did Blank obtain a license. In response to a threatened infringement suit, the Blank parties sought declaratory judgment of noninfringement. In addition to arguing that creation of karaoke recordings are "fair use," the Blank parties claimed use of WCM's works covered by Audio Stream's license with WCM on a "work for hire" basis. The court denied the Blank parties' motion to partly dismiss WCM's counterclaims for contributory and vicarious infringement, as related to unspecified recordings and unidentified third-parties. Given the Blank parties' distribution, marketing and sale of its copyrighted works to third parties to create karaoke recordings, WCM adequately stated a claim for contributory infringement based on the Blank parties' provision to third parties of materials to commit direct infringement. By benefitting financially from the third parties' infringement—and their own use of infringing karaoke recordings on their website to draw customers—the Blank parties plausibly committed vicarious copyright infringement.

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