Jay Z Wins Copyright Lawsuit Over Song Royalties Payments


Sound engineer Chauncey Mahan has now all but exhausted his remedies in a copyright claim against rapper Jay Z after the Second Circuit affirmed a district court ruling against him and remanded the case for further damages calculations. In July, a Manhattan judge awarded Jay Z $253,000 in attorney’s fees after saying that Mahan’s claim was “objectively unreasonable.” Mahan sued Jay Z, Roc-A-Fella Records, and Roc Nation in 2014, alleging that he had a copyright interest in more than 40 songs that he worked on with the rap superstar. Most prominently, the sound engineer had worked on Vol 3… The Life and Times of S. Carter and afterward owned several masters, outtakes and unpublished materials. But he alleged that in April 2014 Roc Nation worked with the Los Angeles Police Department to take those materials back. Roc Nation alleged in return that Mahan had requested that it pay him a $100,000 “storage fee”; otherwise, he said he would auction the materials off.

Mahan alleged he had a copyright interest in the materials, but Roc Nation argued—and the court agreed—that the statute of limitations to bring such a claim was triggered in 2000.

“Mahan brought suit over 10 years after the expiration of the applicable statute of limitations. All of his claims under the Copyright Act are time-barred,” a second circuit panel wrote. “Accordingly, and finding no merit in all of Mahan’s arguments, we hereby affirm the judgment of the district court.”

Adding insult to injury, the panel remanded the case back to district court to calculate attorney’s fees spent during the appeals process. The case probably serves as a reminder to intellectual property litigants that settlement is often times preferable to litigating a matter in the courtroom and that a potentially frivolous claim can end up hurting the plaintiff much more than the defendant.

Sources: http://www.reuters.com/article/ip-jayz-copyright-idUSL2N1640MC http://www.xxlmag.com/news/2016/02/jay-z-wins-legal-battle-over-sound-engineer/ http://www.law360.com/articles/763374/jay-z-squashes-big-pimpin-copyright-beef-in-2nd-circ http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/22/business/media/jay-z-and-timbaland-win-copyright-lawsuit-over-big-pimpin-sample.html?_r=0 http://www.complex.com/music/2016/02/jay-z-and-tidal-facing-lawsuit-over-not-paying-out-royalties-to-artists

For more information on this topic, please visit our Copyright Infringement Defense service page, which is part of our Software & Copyrights practice.

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