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Smith v Casey

Case No. 13-12351 (C.A. 11, Jan. 22, 2014)

At issue in this appeal is whether the author of a musical composition who assigned his rights in exchange for royalties may rely for purposes of standing to sue for infringement under the Copyright Act on a registration his publisher filed. Ronald Louis Smith, Jr., as representative for the estate of his late father, sued several entities with whom Ronald Louis Smith, Sr. (Smith), recorded music in the late 1970s. The estate alleged infringement of Smith’s copyright in a musical composition entitled “Spank,” along with a claim for breach of contract and a claim seeking a declaration of the validity of copyright transfer terminations the estate filed under 17 U.S.C. § 203. Concluding the estate lacked statutory standing to sue for infringement, the district court dismissed that claim and denied a motion to amend the complaint as futile. The court then concluded the declaratory-judgment claim was not ripe and declined to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the contract claim. Because the conclusion that the estate lacked statutory standing to sue for copyright infringement was erroneous, we reverse.

I.



When reviewing a dismissal for failure to state a claim, we accept as true the allegations in the complaint and recite them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. See Starship Enters. of Atlanta, Inc. v. Coweta Cnty., Ga., 708 F.3d 1243, 1252 (11th Cir. 2013). Smith wrote “Spank,” and he later produced a recording of the song by another artist under a Recording Agreement he had signed with a company known at the time as Sunshine Sound Enterprises, Inc. (Sunshine Sound). Sunshine Sound released the record in early 1979 and registered a copyright for the sound recording. Smith’s Recording Agreement contained a provision requiring him — either with Sunshine Sound or a publishing company of its choosing — to “execute . . . a separate Songwriter’s Agreement in respect of each . . . Composition” recorded under the agreement “in the form of Exhibit ‘A’ atttached hereto . . . .” Under that form songwriter’s contract, Smith would “sell[], assign[], and deliver[]” his rights in a composition in exchange for scheduled royalties for different uses of the work. In the event Smith failed to execute the form agreement for any given composition, he gave Sunshine Sound authority “to execute said agreement in [his] name.”

With respect to “Spank,” however, neither Smith nor Sunshine Sound acting on his behalf inked such an agreement. Nonetheless, around the same time it was recorded, Harrick Music, Inc. (Harrick Music), a publishing company affiliated with Sunshine Sound, registered a copyright for the musical composition “Spank,” identifying Smith as composer and itself as claimant. Harrick Music checked a box on the registration indicating the song was not a composition made for hire.
 

 

Judge(s): Phyllis Kravitch
Jurisdiction: U.S. Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit
Related Categories: Contracts , Entertainment , Wills / Trusts / Estates
 
Circuit Court Judge(s)
Peter Fay
Phyllis Kravitch
Charles Wilson

 

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Click the maroon box above for a formatted PDF of the decision.
in denying as futile leave to amend the complaint. as a result, the estate contends, omitted)). 12 claim, however, is another matter. we review the district court’s dismissal of a creator assigned all rights to a work, but the assignee was obligated to pay royalties 9 moreover, the estate expressly alleged that the earliest date the termination owners of [the publisher’s] registered copyright.” id. at n.2; see also morris v. § 203 notices would not presently affect the parties’ rights in the works the notices agent of sunshine sound enterprises, inc., under a “work for hire” agreement lacks statutory standing to maintain an notices could be legally effective is august of 2014. see 17 u.s.c. § 203(a)(3) two defendants the smith estate named — jimmie horne, jr., who court did not abuse its discretion in dismissing without prejudice the estate’s claim 7 for standing purposes, the leading treatise on copyright explains that the versus an independent federal claim exists in the case, and the court should not have in the ensuing years, smith acquiesced in harrick music’s administration of declaration regarding the effectiveness of its § 203 copyright termination notices copyright office rejected without receipt by filing substitute notices with respect to the same termination notices. even if we rely upon the filing receipts the estate entered into the record, they expressly caution that the party’s filing is “merely a preliminary case: 13-12351 date filed: 01/22/2014 page: 2 of 17 the district court’s conclusion regarding the estate’s declaratory-judgment of the registration harrick music had filed. and the estate requested leave to file the provision purports both to immediately assign the composition copyrights for apparently “sell[], assign[], and deliver[]” his rights in a composition in exchange for judgment claim was not ripe and declined to exercise supplemental jurisdiction unwritten copyrights to sunshine sound and to require smith to later assign the same copyrights unless the effects . . . have been felt in a concrete way. . . .” (citations, footnote, district court also observed that smith’s allegations were inadequate to state a at issue in this appeal is whether the author of a musical composition who 2 to sue for infringement, the district court dismissed that claim and denied a motion to our knowledge, each of our sister circuits to have confronted the situation has we can tell, the copyright office has neither accepted nor rejected the estate’s under that form songwriter’s contract, smith would act and using, as examples, exclusive and nonexclusive licensees. they fail to explain, ronald louis smith, jr., as representative for the estate of his late father, sued 4 219. the fifth circuit affirmed the denial of a motion to dismiss the brothers’ 8 exclusive right in a copyrighted work must still demonstrate compliance with the the issues for judicial decision, and 2) the hardship to the parties of withholding subject work.”6 his death, smith through counsel sent a cease-and-desist letter revoking harrick estate’s claims that harrick music and sunshine sound breached express and did not decide that smith’s estate had failed to show good cause or to comply with local rules, be “futile,” the district court decided, “given that [the estate] lacks statutory with a company known at the time as sunshine sound enterprises, inc. (sunshine claims ha[d] dropped out of [the] lawsuit . . . .” because that premise was legally 6 the 1976 copyright act’s legislative history explains that congress and has, therefore, abandoned any contention with respect to them. hamilton v. southland entitled, subject to the requirements of section 411 [of the copyright act], to case: 13-12351 date filed: 01/22/2014 page: 7 of 17 case: 13-12351 date filed: 01/22/2014 page: 17 of 17 beneficial interest that satisfies § 501(b) of the copyright act.5 exclusive right to secure copyright,” to a publisher in exchange for royalties. id. at (“[p]recedent . . . under the 1909 copyright act is instructive.”), cert. denied, 133 harrick music, inc., the estate has expressly and repeatedly disclaimed any claim for infringement of the “spank” atttached hereto . . . .”2 court’s conclusion that the estate lacked statutory standing to maintain a copyright this case, that provision is not so patently clear about the ownership of the “spank” copyright as for hire. nothing in § 411(a) indicates that a composer who has agreed to assign interest in the composition. relevant here, the release stated that sound recordings made under the recording smith’s estate moved the court to reconsider its dismissal of the copyright in reaching this conclusion, we are in good company. as best we can tell, case: 13-12351 date filed: 01/22/2014 page: 4 of 17 ________________________ purposes every time legal and beneficial ownership of the same exclusive right however, why that matters and provide no explanation why the rule for registration should differ non-argument calendar court rejected the smith estate’s contention that it could rely on the registration 4 divisibility of rights under the 1976 act by contrast to indivisibility of copyright under the 1909 copyright office completed its review, the complaint’s allegations indicate that the harry wayne casey, infringement against horne and joy productions were insufficient. the district rested with two distinct parties, even if they joined together in filing suit against an identify. see reno v. catholic soc. servs., inc., 509 u.s. 43, 57 (1993) or she is the owner of it.” 17 u.s.c. § 501(b). section § 411(a) provides, in turn, performed “spank” on the recording smith produced that was released under joy productions, inc., under this definition, the estate has a sufficient ownership interest for in the united states court of appeals appeal from the united states district court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded. infringement claim with respect to the “spank” composition was erroneous. for “to make out a prima facie case of copyright infringement, a plaintiff must & n.2 (5th cir. 1999) (stating that composers who had assigned composition to 559 u.s. 154 (2010). hire, who have no standing to sue). adequately alleged facts to support its statutory standing to sue for infringement of to either sunshine sound or another entity by separate agreement. in the procedural posture of smith lacked statutory standing to pursue his copyright claim and sua sponte sound). sunshine sound released the record in early 1979 and registered a to amend and dismissed the estate’s contract claims as a consequence of this same by contrast, an author who creates a work within the scope of her employment was not ripe for adjudication. the court did not abuse its discretion in declining (good cause to amend). with respect to a decision we would review only for an abuse of shall be instituted until preregistration or registration of the copyright claim has before wilson, fay and kravitch, circuit judges. a composer assigns copyright title to a publisher in exchange for the payment of erroneous, the court erred in dismissing the pendent state-law claim. s. ct. 1810 (2013). were we to ignore the weight of this authority and hold 727 f.3d 1349, 1356 (11th cir. 2013) (internal quotation marks omitted). as best provision1 that reason, we vacate the dismissal of that claim. because the court denied leave bus. concepts, inc., 259 f.3d 65, 71 (2d cir. 2001) (recognizing that magazine to amend the complaint as futile. the court then concluded the declaratory- case: 13-12351 date filed: 01/22/2014 page: 14 of 17 recognized that “a publisher could obtain and hold a copyright in its name in trust however, smith was owed percentage royalties for the song’s exploitation in plaintiff has. over the contract claim. because the conclusion that the estate lacked statutory copyright registration for ‘funky soul.’” id. at 220-21 & n.2. composers who concrete way by the challenging parties.” (alteration and internal quotation marks the court did not have occasion to make, “the more appropriate course is for us to allow the steel, lp, 419 f.3d 1201, 1203 (11th cir. 2005). the district court concluded case: 13-12351 date filed: 01/22/2014 page: 1 of 17 to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the estate’s breach-of-contract claim. copyright office procedures.” see temple b'nai zion, inc., 727 f.3d at 1356 presumably resting upon its previous determination that amendment would be from the november 2011 date of the cease-and-desist letter. the composition entitled “spank,” along with a claim for breach of contract and a finally, the estate urges that its declaratory judgment claim was ripe for defendants - appellees. ________________________ case: 13-12351 date filed: 01/22/2014 page: 12 of 17 plaintiff - appellant, infringement.” later, the court sua sponte dismissed the remainder of the estate’s depending upon the type of ownership interest (a distinct element of statutory standing) a 10 iii. premature. 8 failed to satisfy the local procedural rules regarding motions for leave to amend, or that the estate intended “‘beneficial owner,’” as the term is used in § 501(b), to “include . . . an 21 & n. 2. in that case, three brothers wrote a song entitled “funky soul” and then for royalties, may not rely on the registration his assignee files. where a publisher they “could not demonstrate that they had obtained or applied to obtain a valid 2 although not attached to the complaint, we consider the recording agreement and appended this case. futile. that decision was based on the court’s finding that the smith estate “may music, inc., k.c. & the sunshine band, inc., and sunshine sound entertainment, inc., is his legal interest in a composition, along with the right to register it, in exchange (stating that termination may only be “effected . . . during a period of five years individually, kravitch, circuit judge: 1284, 1290 (11th cir. 2011) (alterations in original) (internal quotation marks until an administrative decision has been formalized and its effects felt in a to reconsider, region 8 forest service timber purchasers council v. alcock, 993 erroneous conclusion, we reverse those decisions as well. and we remand this horne and joy productions argue “spank” was a work created for hire. given that the identical circumstances, that composers who retained a beneficial interest could rely upon the registration their music publisher filed. see batiste, 179 f.3d at 220- matter for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.9 grouts & mortars, inc. v. 3m co., 575 f.3d 1235, 1241 (11th cir. 2009). but the district court declined to exercise pendent jurisdiction over the breach-of-contract claim. case: 13-12351 date filed: 01/22/2014 page: 6 of 17 step” and issuance of the receipt “do[es] not imply that any final determination has a florida corporation, kernel records oy v. mosley, 694 f.3d 1294, 1303 n.9 (11th cir. 2012) have been reluctant to apply them to administrative determinations unless these peculiarly within their grasp.” id. at 289. f.2d 180, 183 (7th cir. 1987) (citing “an author who assigned his work in i. case: 13-12351 date filed: 01/22/2014 page: 5 of 17 publication of the work under the grant or at the end of forty years from the date of court has not yet decided it and leave the decision for the district court to make in the first “we will only reverse a smith as the composer and informing the copyright office the work was not made 402 f.3d 881, 883, 886-87 (9th cir. 2005) (en banc) (quoting the legislative history infringement claim, contending statutory standing for the claim existed as a result infringement claims”); cortner v. israel, 732 f.2d 267, 271 (2d cir. 1984) (“when district courts “may” exercise jurisdiction over a declaratory-judgment claim). infringement claims for lack of standing, finding “no merit” in the contention that recording of the song by another artist under a recording agreement he had signed agreement remained sunshine sound’s property and sunshine sound remained been made in accordance with [the act].” id. at 411(a). case: 13-12351 date filed: 01/22/2014 page: 10 of 17 assigned his rights in exchange for royalties may rely for purposes of standing to 5 the district court also concluded that the estate mooted its claim as to two notices the and internal quotation marks omitted)). the issues are, therefore, not yet fit for office four notices of termination, seeking to formally record his revocation. ruling based on an error of law is an abuse of discretion.” young v. new process case: 13-12351 date filed: 01/22/2014 page: 3 of 17 5 show that (1) it owns a valid copyright in the [work] and (2) defendants copied registration was a necessary precondition to filing suit for infringement. the even were we to treat smith’s agreement to permit sunshine sound to execute the cent to him. according to the complaint, neither did sunshine sound. under the (11th cir. 2011) (compliance with local rules); s. grouts & mortars, inc., 575 f.3d at 1240 the rights of litigants.” wilton, 515 u.s at 286. the act “vest[s] district courts jurisdiction over the claim for that reason. “in deciding whether a claim is ripe for 527 f.3d 1218, 1231 (11th cir. 2008) (internal quotation marks omitted). “[a] novo, see coventry first, llc v. mccarty, 605 f.3d 865, 869 (11th cir. 2010). the defendants contend we may affirm on either of two alternative grounds: that the estate in this case, the district court determined the smith estate’s claim seeking a execution of the grant, whichever term ends earlier”). thus, even had the district court the opportunity to address that matter in the first instance.”). we see no reason to to its terms for the “spank” composition, smith still would only have assigned his complaint does not allege the “spank” composition was a work for hire, the language of both the also warren v. fox family worldwide, inc., 328 f.3d 1136, 1144 (9th cir. 2003) denying leave to amend the complaint. christian sch., inc., 680 f.3d 1316, 1318-19 (11th cir. 2012) that “no civil action for infringement of the copyright in any united states work 708 f.3d at 1252. and we review for an abuse of discretion the denial of a motion 1 the release was wholly silent, however, as to where ownership rested for the with sunshine sound, registered a copyright for the musical composition “spank,” 7 see 17 u.s.c. § 201(b) (“in the case of a work made for hire, author who had parted with legal title to the copyright in exchange for percentage been made in the case.” and the receipts explain that “official action . . . can be nimmer, nimmer on copyright § 12.02[d] (stating that § 501(b)’s definition of taken only after there has been a full examination of the claim following regular standing. because that decision was incorrect, the court abused its discretion in music’s authority to administer “spank.” and smith also filed with the copyright 13 d.c. docket no. 1:12-cv-23795-uu for the southern district of florida implied contracts with smith. this is the estate’s appeal. disposition. we agree with the first two points but disagree with the third. estate filed under 17 u.s.c. § 203. concluding the estate lacked statutory standing denial of the estate’s motion to amend the complaint. 7 case: 13-12351 date filed: 01/22/2014 page: 8 of 17 scheduled royalties for different uses of the work. in the event smith failed to exchange for royalties” as “the classic example of a beneficial owner in the cases form songwriter’s contract in reviewing the complaint’s allegations because that document was royalties, and the copyright registration expressly states that it was not a work made for hire, the jimmie horace horne, jr., 17 sound recording. thus, only the copyright in the underlying musical composition is at issue in a florida corporation, case: 13-12351 date filed: 01/22/2014 page: 13 of 17 with this conclusion, it follows that we must also reverse the district court’s and, therefore, affirm the dismissal of that claim without prejudice. but the district harrick music had filed to satisfy § 411(a). copyright for the sound recording. smith’s recording agreement contained a on federal courts unique and substantial discretion in deciding whether to declare standing to bring a copyright infringement charge at the present time.” and obligations under it “except as otherwise provided” in the release. as as personal representative of the estate of ronald louis smith, (explaining that, when reviewing a decision committed to the discretion of the district court that 11 discretion, we generally decline to substitute our judgment about the matter when the district ronald louis smith, jr., 8 smith’s relationship with sunshine sound deteriorated after “spank” was omitted). “the legal or beneficial owner of an exclusive right under a copyright is with respect to “spank,” however, neither smith nor sunshine sound acting separate registration. because smith had not registered the work, the district court seeking a declaration of the validity of the estate’s termination notices as rights to the musical composition in exchange for royalties. thus, he has at least a makes no argument that the court’s conclusion was incorrect as to the two earlier § 203 notices sunshine sound entertainment, inc., smith or his estate, had registered the copyright, the district court noted, and allegations in the complaint and recite them in the light most favorable to the beneficial owner “follows the law established by the courts under the 1909 act”). the only other court of appeals to have addressed the issue held, under nearly district court’s denial of a motion to amend in instances in which the district court case: 13-12351 date filed: 01/22/2014 page: 11 of 17 standing under § 501(b). see batiste v. island records inc., 179 f.3d 217, 219-21 of the article individually) , abrogated in part by reed elsevier, inc., v. muchnick, royalties from its exploitation has a beneficial interest sufficient for statutory (“[d]eclaratory judgment remedies . . . are discretionary, and courts traditionally (“[ripeness] doctrine serves . . . [to] shield[] agencies from judicial interaction has registered a claim to copyright in a work not made for hire, we conclude the agreement giving harrick music the right to exploit the “spank” copyright. but of statutory standing, we expressly do not reach the alternative claim that the estate has a legal horne’s stage name jimmy “bo” horne in 1979, and a related company called joy (january 22, 2014) if the grant covers the right of publication . . . thirty-five years from the date of state a claim upon which relief could be granted. starship enters. of atlanta, inc., the defendants point out that this sentence is in a paragraph discussing the concept of declaratory judgment act claim for an abuse of discretion. wilton v. seven falls ________________________ music was not a party to the release. exchange for assigning his rights to it. so on november 28, 2011, shortly before estate also alleged the entities had breached agreements with smith under the agree to assign their legal rights to a work in exchange for royalties, the court as this appeal is not frivolous, the motion for sanctions filed by harry wayne casey, harrick individually, which gives the composer standing to sue for infringement of that copyright.”); see so on october 18, 2012, smith’s estate filed suit against sunshine sound, deciding standing to sue under the 1909 act,” and stating “congress merely authority “to execute said agreement in [his] name.” the “spank” copyright. royalties based on sales or license fees.” h.r. rep. no. 94-1476, at 159 (1976). claim . . . in accordance with this title.” 17 u.s.c. § 411(a). harrick music enters of atlanta, inc., 708 f.3d at 1253 n.13. to the composer if it exploited the work.”); moran v. london records, ltd., 827 14 dismissed that count with prejudice as to all of the defendants. harrick music, not jurisdiction, and the court declined to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the case: 13-12351 date filed: 01/22/2014 page: 16 of 17 possible the deficiency could be cured by amendment. doing so, however, would ii. case, concluding the declaratory-judgment claim was unripe. without that claim, recording and form songwriter’s agreements facially assign the copyright in exchange for court denied the motion, without any word regarding the motion to amend, signed an agreement transferring all rights in the composition, including “the and those decisions are matters of discretion. fils v. city of aventura, 647 f.3d 1272, 1282-83 several entities with whom ronald louis smith, sr. (smith), recorded music in the the court concluded, there was no independent basis for federal subject matter instance. see mckusick v. city of melbourne, fla., 96 f.3d 478, 489 n.7 (11th cir. 1996) interpreting the 1909 act, which are instructive in interpreting the 1976 act, the employer or other person for whom the work was prepared is considered the case: 13-12351 date filed: 01/22/2014 page: 15 of 17 standing to sue as a beneficial owner.” moran, 827 f.2d at 183 (citing cases); see for infringement3 execute the form agreement for any given composition, he gave sunshine sound a florida corporation, despite this, the defendants continued to commercially exploit the composition. defendant joined the motion. but, after reviewing it, the district court concluded upon for standing to sue an alleged infringer, but finding no adequate registration f.k.a. jimmy "bo" horne, smith’s estate argues the court was wrong to conclude it lacked statutory identifying smith as composer and itself as claimant. harrick music checked a failed to demonstrate that it satisfied the good-cause standard applicable to the motion. see s. we review de novo a district court’s dismissal of a complaint for failure to co., 515 u.s. 277, 289-91 (1995); see also 28 u.s.c. § 2201(a) (providing that 1243, 1252 (11th cir. 2013). smith wrote “spank,” and he later produced a protected elements from the [work].” saregama india ltd. v. mosley, 635 f.3d has clearly abused its discretion.” oravec v. sunny isles luxury ventures, l.c., amendment of the complaint would be futile because the estate lacked statutory released. as a result, on september 30, 1980, he signed a release agreement with the district court’s construction of § 411(a) was too narrow. harrick music works rectifying the deficiencies the copyright office had identified. on appeal, the estate case: 13-12351 date filed: 01/22/2014 page: 9 of 17 the district court dismissed the claim based on its conclusion that all “federal recording agreement for “spank” and an album released under his own name in beginning at the end of thirty-five years from the date of execution of the grant; or, author . . . .”); moran, 827 f.3d at 182-83; silvers v. sony pictures entm’t, inc., referred to in the complaint, is undisputed, and is central to the estate’s claims. see starship concluded, “may properly assert their copyright infringement claims as beneficial standing under § 501(b). according to smith’s allegations, he never signed any for the same reason, the district court also abused its discretion in declining 1978 entitled party freaks, come on. and the estate sought a declaration of the when reviewing a dismissal for failure to state a claim, we accept as true the congress would have intended such a result. we hold the smith estate has no. 13-12351 denied. to obviate the need for development of a factual record on the issue. copyrights in the musical compositions embodied on the recordings. and harrick depart from that sound practice in this case. intended to codify the existing case law”); 3 melville b. nimmer & david late 1970s. the estate alleged infringement of smith’s copyright in a musical with discretion in the first instance[] because facts bearing on the usefulness of the accordingly, we believe the district court was within its discretion to decline hardship at all for either party. under these circumstances, we conclude the district declaratory judgment remedy, and the fitness of the case for resolution, are alleged infringer. absent clear statutory language requiring it, we do not believe of its choosing — to “execute . . . a separate songwriter’s agreement in respect of the company terminating his recording contract and mutually releasing all claims box on the registration indicating the song was not a composition made for hire. 15 form songwriter’s contract appended to his recording agreement as acquiescence publisher could have registered copyright in article that author could have relied beneficial owner has statutory standing to sue for infringement. recording agreement and the form songwriter’s agreement attached to it, productions, inc. — moved to dismiss the infringement count as to them. no other claim seeking a declaration of the validity of copyright transfer terminations the infringement suit.4 16 “obligated to [smith] under the royalty provisions” of the recording agreement. f.2d 800, 805-06 (11th cir. 1993), reviewing any attendant question of law de agreed that an author who assigns his legal rights to a work in exchange for sue for infringement under the copyright act on a registration his publisher filed. 3 harrick music, and several related entities seeking, among other things, damages registered a claim to copyright in the “spank” composition, specifically identifying “plaintiff in court obviously need not be the same party who initially registered the adjudication or review, we look primarily at two considerations: 1) the fitness of adjudication and dismissal without prejudice would result in essentially no requiring him — either with sunshine sound or a publishing company court consideration.” temple b’nai zion, inc. v. city of sunny isles beach, fla., plaintiff. see starship enters. of atlanta, inc. v. coweta cnty., ga., 708 f.3d 6 for the eleventh circuit act’s formalities, which require “preregistration or registration of the copyright issue is at least so questionable as not to be capable of decision on a motion to dismiss. 3 nimmer on copyright § 12.02[b][1]. moreover, cases to exercise jurisdiction over the estate’s claim under the declaratory judgment act recorded, harrick music, inc. (harrick music), a publishing company affiliated concluded, he lacked statutory standing. in reaching that conclusion, the district music publisher in exchange for royalties could “properly assert . . . copyright the “spank” composition copyright, but, he alleged, the company never remitted a plausible claim of infringement against horne and joy productions but that it was standing to bring an infringement claim and, concomitantly, abused its discretion section 501(b), however, contains a caveat. even the beneficial owner of an for the true author,” and in such circumstances “the author would thus have an amended complaint, stating that it could cure any deficiency if the allegations of 9 standing to sue for copyright infringement was erroneous, we reverse. royalties, an equitable trust relationship is established between the two parties each . . . composition” recorded under the agreement “in the form of exhibit ‘a’ 3 on his behalf inked such an agreement. nonetheless, around the same time it was institute an action for any infringement of that particular right committed while he because we conclude the estate has at least pleaded a sufficient beneficial interest for purposes not rely on harrick’s copyright registration in order to bring a suit for copyright k.c. & the sunshine band, inc., registered the copyright in the “spank” composition, but smith did not file a [publish] (“several other circuits have held that a creator may be a beneficial owner where a “since its inception, the declaratory judgment act has been understood to confer arise in the context of a controversy ‘ripe’ for judicial resolution, that is to say, regarding the meaning of beneficial ownership to distinguish creators of works for otherwise, redundant registrations would be necessary for statutory standing validity of the termination notices it had filed. ________________________


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