EMI Christian Music et al. v. MP3Tunes, No. 14-4369 (2d Cir. Oct. 25, 2016).
In the MP3Tunes appeal, the Second Circuit vacated the District Court’s grant of partial summary judgment to the defendants based on its conclusion that MP3tunes qualified for safe harbor protection under the DMCA because the District Court applied too narrow a definition of “repeat infringer”; (2) reversed the District Court’s grant of judgment as a matter of law to the defendants on claims that MP3tunes permitted infringement of plaintiffs’ copyrights in pre‐2007 MP3s and Beatles songs because there was sufficient evidence to allow a reasonable jury to conclude that MP3tunes had red‐flag knowledge of, or was willfully blind to, infringing activity involving those categories of protected material; (3) remanded for further proceedings related to claims arising out of the District Court’s grant of partial summary judgment; and (4) affirmed the judgment in all other respects (relating to statutory damages for sound recordings and compositions, cover art liability, respondeat superior liability for MP3Tunes executives, personal jurisdiction, vicarious and contributory liability, statutory damages for singles & compilations, and punitive damages).
The plaintiff record labels and music publishers argued that MP3tunes never reasonably implemented a repeat‐infringer policy. In addressing this argument, the Second Circuit answered two questions: first, whether certain MP3tunes users qualified as “repeat infringers”; and second, if so, whether MP3tunes reasonably implemented a policy directed at them. As to the first question, the Second Circuit held "all it takes to be a 'repeat infringer' is to repeatedly upload or download copyrighted material for personal use." (Emphasis in original) Having answered that question, the Court then found that MP3tunes did not "even try to connect known infringing activity of which it became aware 2through takedown notices to users who repeatedly created links to that infringing content in the sideload.com index or who copied files from those links...A jury could reasonably infer from that evidence that MP3tunes actually knew of specific repeat infringers and failed to take action "
The Court also, notably, addressed statutory damages and whether it was improper to make only a single award where there are different owners of the copyright in the sound recording and in the composition.
In our view, then, Congress did not intend for separate statutory damages awards for derivative works such as sound recordings, even when the copyright owner of the sound recording differs from the copyright owner of the musical composition. In sum, the District Court’s decision to permit only one award of statutory damages for the musical composition and corresponding sound recording comports with both the plain text and the legislative history of the Copyright Act. We therefore affirm that part of the judgment.
In addition to attacking the District Court’s exercise of personal jurisdiction over him, the individual defendant (MP3Tune's CEO) argued that there was insufficient evidence to support the jury’s finding that he was vicariously or contributorily liable for MP3tunes’s infringements. The Second Circuit disagreed,