United States District Court, S.D. New York
LATIN AMERICAN MUSIC COMPANY, INC., also known as LAMCO, and ASOCIACIÓN DE COMPOSITORES Y EDITORES DE MUSICA LATINOAMERICANA, also known as ACEMLA, Plaintiffs,
SPANISH BROADCASTING SYSTEM, INC., and RAUL ALARCON, JR., Defendants.
OPINION AND ORDER
RICHARD J. SULLIVAN, District Judge.
Latin American Music Company, Inc. (“LAMCO”) and
Asociación de Compositores y Editores de Musica
Latinoamericana de Puerto Rico, Inc. (“ACEMLA”)
bring this action for copyright infringement against
Defendant Spanish Broadcasting System, Inc.
(“SBS”).Specifically, Plaintiffs allege that
Defendant improperly broadcast thirteen songs owned by
Plaintiffs on its Spanish-language radio stations without
first obtaining licenses from Plaintiffs. On September 23,
2015, the Court denied Defendant's motion for partial
summary judgment, which was filed prior to the completion of
discovery, finding that genuine issues of material fact
existed as to Defendant's contention that it had valid
licenses to play certain of the songs. (Doc. No. 78.) On
March 1, 2016, discovery in this matter closed. (Doc. No.
83.) Now before the Court is Defendant's second motion
for partial summary judgment. For the reasons that follow,
Defendant's motion is granted in part and denied in part.
LAMCO is a music publisher that administers copyrighted
musical works of Puerto Rican and foreign composers;
Plaintiff ACEMLA is an organization that licenses performance
rights to musical works; and Defendant SBS is a radio
broadcaster that owns and operates commercial radio and
television stations across the United States and Puerto
Rico. (Def. 56.1 ¶¶ 1-3.) Background
information on the parties and the basic facts underlying
their dispute were set forth in the Court's September 23,
2015 opinion, and need not be repeated here. (See
Doc. No. 78.) Accordingly, the following section focuses on
the songs at issue on the instant motion, first discussing
the songs as to which the parties dispute ownership, and
second discussing those for which Defendant contends there is
no evidence of infringement.
Disputes Over Ownership
seven of the songs addressed by Defendant's motion -
Abuelita, Aguanile, Ausencia,
Mi Gente, Soy Sensacional,
Mantecadito, and Arroz con Bacalao - the
parties dispute whether Plaintiffs currently own the rights
to these songs. However, there is no dispute that one of two
entities other than Plaintiffs - Fania Publishing Co., Inc.
(“Fania Publishing”) or Fania Records, Co.
(“Fania Records”) - registered copyrights for
each of these songs in the 1970s, decades before any
purported transfer of copyright ownership to Plaintiffs.
(Def. 56.1 ¶ 59.) For convenience, the Court will refer
to these seven songs as the “Fania Works.”
Abuelita, Aguanile, and Ausencia
and 1971, Fania Publishing registered Abuelita,
Aguanile, and Ausencia with the Copyright
Office. (Def. 56.1 ¶¶ 8, 13, 17.) The registration
certificate for each of these songs identifies Willie Colon
and Hector Perez (sometimes under his pseudonym, Hector
Lavoe) as the co-authors. (Id. ¶¶ 9, 14,
later, in 1999 and 2000, Plaintiffs recorded agreements
pursuant to which one of Hector Lavoe's heirs purportedly
transferred the rights in Abuelita,
Aguanile, and Ausencia to Plaintiffs. (Def.
56.1 ¶ 61; Pl. Counter 56.1 ¶ 6.) Also in 1999,
Plaintiffs registered copyrights for these three songs. (Pl.
Counter 56.1 ¶ 7.)
1975, Fania Publishing registered Mi Gente with the
Copyright Office. (Def. 56.1 ¶ 21.) The registration
certificate lists “Johnny Pacheco” as the author
of the work. (Id. ¶ 22.)
alleged ownership of the rights to Mi Gente stems
from the same agreements with the Lavoe heir discussed above.
(Def. 56.1 ¶ 61; Pl. Counter 56.1 ¶ 6.) Plaintiffs
recorded these agreements in 1999 and 2000, naming Hector
Lavoe as the author of Mi Gente instead of Pacheco.
(Def. 56.1 ¶ 63; Pl. Counter 56.1 ¶ 6.) As of
Plaintiffs' response to Defendant's 56.1 statement,
Plaintiffs' application to register Mi Gente
remains pending. (Def. 56.1 ¶ 65.)
Soy Sensacional and Mantecadito
1973, Fania Records registered Hommy - a Latin opera
that includes both Soy Sensacional and
Mantecadito - with the Copyright Office. (Def. 56.1
¶¶ 27-28.) The registration certificate lists
“Larry Kahn a/k/a Larry Harlow” and “Jenaro
Alvarez a/k/a Heny Alvarez” as the co-authors of the
work. (Id. ¶ 29.) In the same year, Fania
Records registered Soy Sensacional and
Mantecadito individually with the Copyright Office.
(Id. ¶¶ 31, 33.)
1996, Plaintiffs recorded with the Copyright Office
agreements between themselves and “Jenaro Alvarez
Domenech, ” pursuant to which Plaintiffs purportedly
obtained rights to a number of Jenaro Alvarez Domenech's
songs, including Soy Sensacional and
Mantecadito. (Pl. Counter 56.1 ¶ 1.) In 2003,
Plaintiffs registered copyrights to Soy Sensacional
and Mantecadito, listing only Jenaro Alvarez
Domenech as the author. (Def. 56.1 ¶ 66; Pl. Counter
56.1 ¶ 2.)
Arroz con Bacalao
1979, Fania Publishing registered Arroz con Bacalao
with the Copyright Office. (Def. 56.1 ¶ 39.) The
registration certificate lists “Johnny Alvarez”
as the author of the work and indicates that Fania Publishing
obtained ownership of the copyright via a songwriter's
agreement with Alvarez. (Id. ¶¶ 40-41.)
2003, Plaintiffs recorded purported transfers of Arroz
con Bacalao from “Jenaro Alvarez Domenech”
(also listed as “Genaro Alvarez Domenech” and
“Jenaro Heny Alvarez”). (Pl. Counter 56.1 ¶
3.) The same year, Plaintiffs registered a copyright in