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Jorgensen v. Epic/Sony Records

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Brief Fact Summary.

Plaintiff sued the publishers, manufacturers and distributors of the songs “My Heart Will Go On” and “Amazed” for copyright infringement on his song “Long Lost Lover.” Defendants moved for summary judgment.

Synopsis of Rule of Law.

A motion for summary judgment should be granted when the defendant demonstrates an absence of material evidence supporting an essential element to the plaintiff’s claim.

Points of Law - Legal Principles in this Case for Law Students.

As the District Court observed, however, our application of this different standard does not relieve plaintiff of his duty to meet the requirements necessary to defeat a motion for summary judgment.

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Facts.

Jorgenson (Plaintiff), a musician and songwriter, copyrighted his song “Long Lost Lover.” Plaintiff sued Famous Music Corporation, Fox Film Music Corp., Blue Sky Rider Songs, and Sony Music Entertainment Inc. (Defendants), for copyright infringement. Plaintiff also sued Careers BMG Music Publishing Songs of Nashville Dreamworkers, and Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corporation (Defendants) for copyright infringement. Plaintiff argued Defendants accessed his song after he mailed copies to multiple entertainment companies and was notified of receipt of the song from two executives at BMG and Sony. Defendants moved for summary judgment.

Issue.

Is summary judgment proper if defendant fails to prove plaintiff is missing material evidence supporting an essential element to the claim?

Held.

No. The summary judgment in favor of Defendants Careers BMG Music Publishing Songs of Nashville Dreamworkers, and Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corporation was affirmed. The summary judgment in favor of Defendants Famous Music Corporation, Fox Film Music Corp., Blue Sky Rider Songs, and Sony Music Entertainment Inc. was vacated.

Discussion.

The Court determined that the lower court properly granted summary judgment for Defendants Careers BMG Music Publishing Songs of Nashville Dreamworkers, and Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corporation because proof of receipt by an executive alone is not sufficient evidence supporting the claim of copyright by the songwriters and publishers. However, the lower court improperly granted summary judgment for Defendants Famous Music Corporation, Fox Film Music Corp., Blue Sky Rider Songs, and Sony Music Entertainment Inc. because Plaintiff provided evidence that the executive who received his song forwarded the song to another department. This evidence demonstrated a reasonable possibility of access by the songwriters and publishers.


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