The opinion of the court was delivered by: SWEET
Plaintiff Tuff-N-Rumble Management, Inc., ("Tuff") has moved pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure to dismiss the six counterclaims asserted against it by Defendants Sygarhill Music Publishing Inc., Sugar Hill Records, Ltd., Sugar Hill Records, Inc., Sugar Hill Music, Inc., and Sugar Hill Music Publishing, Ltd. (collectively, 'Sugarhill"). For the reasons set forth below, Tuff's motion is denied in part and granted in part.
Tuff is a New York corporation with its principal place of business in New York, New York.
Sugarhill Music Publishing, Inc., Sugar Hill Records, Inc., and Sugar Hill Music Publishing, Ltd. are New Jersey corporations with their principal place of business in Englewood, New Jersey.
Sugar Hill Records, Ltd. and Sugar Hill Misic, Ltd. have their principal places of business in Englewood, New Jersey. In its complaint, Tuff asserted that these entities are New Jersey corporations, but Sugarhill denied these claims in its answer.
Defendants are engaged in the business of commissioning, acquiring, owning, licensing and selling musical compositions, works, songs, and the recorded performances thereof.
Tuff filed a complaint against Sugarhill alleging copyright infringement, violation of the Lanham Act, tortious interference with prospective economic advantage, and unfair business practices in violation of New York General Business Law on October 17, 1997. Sugarhill filed its answer and six counterclaims on March 9, 1998. Sugarhill alleges that Tuff committed copyright infringement in violation of copyright law and that Tuff is liable under New Jersey law for interference with prospective economic advantage, tortious interference with contract, slander of title, defamation, and malicious prosecution.
Tuff filed the instant motion on March 26, 1998. The motion was fully submitted on April 20, 1998.
In considering a motion to dismiss, the factual allegations of the complaint are presumed to be true and all factual inferences must be drawn in the plaintiff's favor. See Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236, 40 L. Ed. 2d 90, 94 S. Ct. 1683 (1974) (on review of sufficiency of a complaint, "allegations of the complaint should be construed favorably to the pleader"); Cosmas v. Hassett, 886 F.2d 8, 11 (2d Cir. 1989); Dwyer v. Regan, 777 F.2d 825, 828-29 (2d Cir. 1985). Therefore, the factual allegations set forth below do not constitute findings of fact by the Court. Unless otherwise indicated, the facts are drawn from the allegations made by Sugarhill in their counterclaims.
The dispute between Tuff and Sugarhill focuses on the copyright ownership of the song "Spoonin' Rap" by Gabriel Jackson, a/k/a Marion Jackson, professionally known as Spoonie Gee ("Jackson"). On or about November 1, 1979, Jackson sold to Heavenly Crown Music his rights to the musical composition (the "Composition") and the master recording (the "Master"). On June 9, 1980, Peter Brown, on behalf of Heavenly Crown Music, assigned the copyright to both the Composition and the Master to Sugarhill, which subsequently recorded the assignment in the United States Copyright Office of August 18, 1995.
According to Tuff, Jackson assigned his copyright interest in the Composition to Tuff in 1988, and it holds United States Copyright Registration SR 174-458, dated August 23, 1994 (the "Registration"). Sugarhill, however, maintains that ...