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 , Copyright , Entertainment
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