The opinion of the court was delivered by: CHARLES HAIGHT Jr., District Judge
MEMORANDUM, OPINION AND ORDER
This is an action asserting copyright claims under the
Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. §§ 101 et. seq., a claim for declaratory
judgment under 28 U.S.C. § 2201, and state law claims for unfair
competition, unjust enrichment, and for consumer protection
claims under the New York General Business Law §§ 349 and
350.*fn1 Defendants move for summary judgment as to all of
The dispute in the instant action centers upon the release in
2001 of an album entitled "No More Drama" (hereinafter, the
"Album"), performed by the defendant songwriter and recording
artist Mary J. Blige. J. Davis Decl., Ex. A ¶ 25. Since its
release, the Album has achieved triple platinum status. Page
Decl., Ex. I. Plaintiff Sharice Davis alleges that two of the
songs contained on the Album, "LOVE" and "Keep it Moving"
(hereinafter referred to collectively or individually as the
"Album Composition(s)"), infringe her copyright in two works of
original authorship, "L.O.V.E." and "Don't Trade in My Love"
(hereinafter referred to collectively or individually as the
"Disputed Composition(s)"). Page Decl., Exhs. F & G.
Specifically, Davis claims that the Album Composition "LOVE" is
virtually identical to the Disputed Composition "L.O.V.E.,", and
the Album Composition "Keep it Moving" bears substantial
similarity to the Disputed Composition "Don't Trade in My Love."
Id. The labels and packaging of the Album identify Blige, her
brother Bruce Miller, Dana Stinson, Ronald Lawrence, and Kwame
Holland as co-writers of the Album Compositions.*fn2
Complaint ¶¶ 62-63. Each of these defendants, along with their
respective music publishing companies, also named as defendants,
join the present motion for summary judgment as Moving
Defendants.*fn3 The circumstances surrounding the creation of the Disputed
Compositions are at issue. In deposition testimony, Davis
conceded that the Disputed Compositions were co-authored by
non-party Bruce Chambliss, defendant Miller's father. Page Decl.,
Ex. B at 22, 152, 156-62, 165, 172-3, 175-6, 278, 305. Davis
registered the Disputed Compositions with the United States
Copyright Office on two occasions, listing Chambliss as a
co-author (one set bearing the date August 2, 2002, the other
undated). J. Davis Decl., Exhs. B & C. In deposition testimony,
Miller likewise asserts that Chambliss is the author of Disputed
Composition "L.O.V.E." Page Decl., Ex. E at 226. Miller also
presents two written agreements (hereinafter, the "Written
Agreement(s)"), in which Chambliss assigns his rights in each of
the Disputed Compositions to Miller. Chambliss Decl., Exhs. A &
B. The Written Agreements are dated June 23, 2004, one day prior
to Chambliss' deposition. The Written Agreements each provide
that "[Bruce Chambliss] does hereby sell, assign, transfer and
set over unto Bruce Miller d/b/a CWAB Music (SESAC), its
successors and assigns, an undivided one hundred percent (100%)
share in and to all of [Bruce Chambliss's] right, title and
interest in the [Disputed Composition] of the universe-wide
copyrights in and to the musical composition . . . IN WITNESS
WHEREOF, [Bruce Chambliss] has duly executed this instrument of
transfer as of the date I first create [sic] the above-referenced
Composition . . ." Id. According to Defendants, the Written
Agreements served to memorialize a prior oral transfer by
Chambliss of all his musical compositions to Miller. J. Davis
Decl., Exhs. E & F (Miller Tr. at 98-99, 106; Chambliss Tr. at
37-8, 114, 157, 166). Davis hotly contests the existence of any
oral transfer. Plaintiff's Memorandum of Law in Opposition to
Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment at 4-8, 14-15. The
alleged oral transfer first came to light during the Miller deposition on December 9, 2003. Page Decl., Ex. E at
Davis' Complaint alleges six claims. Davis' First Claim, for
copyright infringement, asserts that Defendants engaged in
unauthorized copying, distribution, sale and performance of
Davis' copyrighted works and that such infringement was
intentional, willful and with full knowledge of Davis'
copyrights. She seeks both monetary damages and injunctive relief
restraining Defendants and their agents from reproducing,
distributing, or selling the Album or the Disputed Compositions.
Davis' Second Claim is a prayer for declaratory relief,
requesting that the Court issue a declaration that Davis is owner
of Album Composition "LOVE" and one-half owner of an undivided
interest in Album Composition "Keep it Moving,' and as such is
entitled to one hundred percent of the royalties generated in
connection with Album Composition "LOVE," and fifty percent of
all royalties generated in connection with Album Composition
"Keep it Moving."
Davis' Third Claim for violation of Lanham Act § 43(a), asserts
that Defendants falsely designated the origin of their goods in
interstate commerce by falsely identifying and misrepresenting
the authors of the Album Compositions. Davis seeks injunctive
relief and damages.
Davis' Fourth Claim, for unfair competition, asserts that
Defendants knowingly and willfully confuse the public "by
creating the false and misleading impression that the [Disputed
Compositions] were authored by persons other than Davis."
Complaint ¶ 99.
Davis' Fifth Claim alleges unjust enrichment against defendants
Blige and Miller.
Davis' Sixth Claim asserts violations under the New York
General Business Law, claiming that defendants' acts were
intentionally designed to mislead the public by creating the false impression that Disputed Compositions were authored by
persons other than Davis, conduct which constitutes deceptive
acts and practices in the conduct of trade and commerce and false
advertising in violation of §§ 349 and 350 of the New York
General Business Law.
Defendants move for summary judgment as to the copyright
infringement claim on the basis of the Written Agreements.
Defendants contend that these agreements reflect an assignment of
Chambliss' copyright interests to Miller, who, thereby possessing
the rights of a co-author, cannot infringe the copyright as a
matter of law.
Davis resists the motion as to all aspects, with an exception
as to her Third Claim for relief under the Lanham Act. Davis did
not reply to Defendants' motion for summary judgment as to this
For the reasons that follow, I grant defendants' Motion for
Summary Judgment ...