Recently, U.S. District Judge Joseph Greenaway the Northern District of New Jersey, in a most unusual copyright infringement case, held that an exchange of e-mail does not fulfill the signed writing requirements of � 204 of the 1976 Copyright Act. [FOOTNOTE 1] Given the rapidly developing ways of the Internet marketplace, this may not always be the case. However, it is, for now, the only federal case that appears to deal with this emerging technology issue. [FOOTNOTE 2]

Plaintiff Corky Ballas, a U.K. resident, commenced a lawsuit in New Jersey state court as a contract case. Defendant Gennaro Tedesco, a music producer with a recording studio and production company, removed the case to federal court alleging the case concerned ownership rights in Mr. Tedesco’s copyrighted sound recordings. The plaintiff had alleged that the e-mails exchanged by the parties, combined with payment of money to Mr. Tedesco, either created a joint work, a work for hire or a license of the copyrights to Mr. Ballas by contract. However, the court held that defendants prevailed on their defensive copyright claim and were entitled to retain ownership of the sound recordings.

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