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Johnson v. Tuff N Rumble Management, Inc.

United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana
2000 WL 622612 (2000)


Facts

In 1964, Wardell Quezergue (plaintiff) registered a copyright to the song, It Ain’t My Fault, listing himself and Joseph Johnson (plaintiff) as the song’s sole authors and copyright owners. In 1992, Johnson gave Joe Jones (defendant) power of attorney to act on Johnson’s behalf with respect to use of the song. The power of attorney did not include any language transferring Johnson’s copyright to Jones. Later that year, Jones registered a copyright to It Ain’t My Fault in the name of Smokey Johnson Publishing Co. & Melder Publishing Co. (defendant). The registration certificate stated that ownership of the copyright had been transferred “by written agreement.” The following day, Jones renewed the copyrights to the 1964 and 1992 registrations for It Ain’t My Fault. The plaintiffs sued Jones d/b/a Melder Publishing Co. in a federal court for copyright infringement. In a request for admission sent to Jones’s last known address, the plaintiffs asked Jones to admit or deny the existence of a signed, written assignment of the copyright. The request was returned as “refused,” and Jones claimed he never received it. The plaintiffs later moved for summary judgment. Jones, acting pro se, filed two oppositions and requested sanctions. Jones’s initial opposition included no evidence of a copyright assignment, and his supplemental opposition included a purported assignment from 1964 that was clearly prepared with modern word-processing equipment. Jones’s filings were marked by abusive, disparaging remarks about the plaintiffs and their counsel. The plaintiffs moved for sanctions after providing Jones with 21 days to cure various defects.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Vance, J.)

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  • A “yes” or “no” answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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