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Agee v. Paramount Communications, Inc.
United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
59 F.3d 317 (1995)
Michael L. Agee (plaintiff) owned the music-recording studio L & H Records and the copyright in its sound recordings. Three songs were copied by Paramount Communications, Inc. (defendant) without Agee’s permission for use in the soundtrack of a segment of its television program, Hard Copy, which was taped and transmitted to independently owned television stations (defendants) for nationwide broadcast. Paramount incorporated the music into a segment called “Caught on Tape” by synchronizing portions of the duplicated sound recording to visual images of two men attempting a burglary. The completed segment was then integrated into the Hard Copy program for transmission to the television stations. Portions of the segment, including Agee’s sound recording, were included in the program’s credits as well as in a promotional commercial produced by Paramount. However, neither the program’s credits nor the commercial included any reference to Agee. The television stations copied and aired both the program and the promotional commercial. Agee brought a copyright-infringement suit against Paramount and the television stations for the unauthorized copying and synchronization of the sound recordings. The district court granted summary judgment against Agee after concluding that none of his exclusive rights had been infringed. The district court held that because Agee’s sound-recording copyright did not extend to the underlying musical compositions, Agee’s right of reproduction did not include the exclusive right to synchronize his recording with visual images in an audiovisual work. Agee appealed.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Newman, C.J.)
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