Ortiz v. Guitian Music Brothers Inc., No. 07 Civ. 3897, 8/12/09 NYLJ "Decision of Interest" (S.D.N.Y. July 22, 2009) (Sweet, J.).
Defendants' FRCP 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss copyright amended complaint denied. According to the amended complaint, plaintiff was solicited to create a series of musical works to be used as the instrumental score for a movie, and plaintiff was to receive certain payments. Plaintiff composed the works for the movie, and 13 works were used as the background instrumental score. The movie was ultimately released, distributed, and sold featuring the works as the background instrumental score. Plaintiff alleges non-payment.
After discussing the Rule 12(b)(6) standard, the Court found that plaintiff had sufficiently plead his claim for copyright infringement under the Rule 8 pleading standards, which require a copyright complaint state: (1) which specific original works are the subject of the claim; (2) that plaintiff owns the copyright; (3) that the works have been registered in accordance with the copyright statute; and (4) by what acts and during what time defendant has infringed the copyright.
Defendants argued that their affirmative defense precluded the action - namely, that plaintiff granted defendants an oral nonexclusive license to use the works in connection with the creation and distribution of the movie. The Court rejected this argument; it was not persuaded that he limited facts alleged in the amended complaint conclusively established such an oral nonexclusive license.
The Court observed that even if it had found such an oral nonexclusive license was apparent on the face of the amended complaint, plaintiff would not be precluded from bringing his copyright claim "because it is further alleged that Defendants did not perform their part of the understanding between the parties." In other words, a licensor can bring an action against a licensee who exceeds or breaches the license agreement. "Indeed, absent consideration, nonexclusive licenses are revocable." Assuming an oral license did exist and plaintiff's allegations of non-payment were true, such license was revocable, and by instituting the action, plaintiff revoked any license that may have existed.
Therefore, the Court denied defendants' motion to dismiss.
Jordan Greenberger, Esq.
J. Greenberger, PLLC. A boutique law practice in Brooklyn, New York, concentrating on copyright, trademark, litigation and related matters.