District Judge Richard J. Sullivan

 

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Under a 1966 contract with Creazioni Artistiche Musicali S.r.l. (CAM) Italian composer Umiliani composed “substantially similar” instrumental and vocal songs—registered with Italian music rights group SIAE—for an Italian film produced that year. In 1968 Umiliani composed the allegedly identical song “Mah Na Mah Na” which came to broad fame through its use in the Muppets TV shows and movies. CAM’s 2014 lawsuit alleging that defendants’ publication and distribution of “Mah Na Mah Na” infringed its copyrights was dismissed in 2016 on the basis that under Italian law, CAM did not possess exclusive rights to Umiliani’s music and thus, lacked standing to sue under the Copyright Act. Considering the four Fogerty factors as outlined in 16 Casa Druse LLC v. Merkin, District Court denied, as inappropriate, defendants’ motion for attorney’s fees under the Copyright Act. CAM’s positions as to contractual interpretation, the choice of law, U.S. law and Italian law were not objectively unreasonable and its nonfrivolous lawsuit was not driven by an improper motive justifying an award of attorney’s fees. No evidence supported defendants’ contention that CAM—a non-litigious, long-running music publisher—was a copyright troll.

District Judge Richard J. Sullivan

 

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Under a 1966 contract with Creazioni Artistiche Musicali S.r.l. (CAM) Italian composer Umiliani composed “substantially similar” instrumental and vocal songs—registered with Italian music rights group SIAE—for an Italian film produced that year. In 1968 Umiliani composed the allegedly identical song “Mah Na Mah Na” which came to broad fame through its use in the Muppets TV shows and movies. CAM’s 2014 lawsuit alleging that defendants’ publication and distribution of “Mah Na Mah Na” infringed its copyrights was dismissed in 2016 on the basis that under Italian law, CAM did not possess exclusive rights to Umiliani’s music and thus, lacked standing to sue under the Copyright Act. Considering the four Fogerty factors as outlined in 16 Casa Druse LLC v. Merkin, District Court denied, as inappropriate, defendants’ motion for attorney’s fees under the Copyright Act. CAM’s positions as to contractual interpretation, the choice of law, U.S. law and Italian law were not objectively unreasonable and its nonfrivolous lawsuit was not driven by an improper motive justifying an award of attorney’s fees. No evidence supported defendants’ contention that CAM—a non-litigious, long-running music publisher—was a copyright troll.