Judge Agrees With CBS Theory, Dismisses ABS Pre-1972 Royalty Suit
June 1, 2016 at 7:13 AM (PT)
A federal judge has granted CBS CORPORATION and CBS RADIO, INC.'s motion for summary judgment and has dismissed ABS ENTERTAINMENT, INC.'s copyright lawsuit over pre-1972 music royalties.
CENTRAL DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA U.S. District Judge PERCY ANDERSON accepted CBS' assertion that remastered or reissued recordings of pre-1972 music constitute post-1972 derivative works and thus are covered by the federal copyright law applying to the newer recordings rather than by state law. CBS submitted engineer WILLIAM INGLOT's declaration that sound engineers reshape the music in the remastering process using "personal aesthetic." INGLOT said that he worked on at least 46 of the recordings subject to the lawsuit. In addition, CBS submitted a declaration from Dr. DURAND R. BEGAULT, who said that the remastering process "involves subjectivity, originality, and ultimately produces works of art."
"In sum, Plaintiffs have failed to create a genuine dispute of material fact as to whether the versions of Plaintiffs’ works performed by CBS included sufficient originality to qualify for a federal copyright," the judge wrote. "For the 57 works reviewed by both parties’ experts, the Court finds that the changes made during the remastering process were original within the meaning of the Copyright Act, and are thus entitled to federal copyright protection."
The ruling held that for 48 of the 57 songs examined by the parties' experts, CBS aired post-1972 versions of pre-1972 songs; for the other 9, CBS aired "an entirely different performance" of the works; and for the other 117 songs not examined, the plaintiffs put forth inadmissible evidence.
ABS and its affiliates BARNABY RECORDS, BRUNSWICK RECORD CORP., and MALACO, INC. own recordings by artists like AL GREEN, WILLIE MITCHELL, RAY STEVENS, ANDY WILLIAMS, JACKIE WILSON, and THE CHI-LITES.