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Scorpio Music S.A. v. Willis

2012 WL 1598403, 102 U.S.P.Q.2d 1606 (2012)

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Scorpio Music S.A. v. Willis

United States District Court for the Southern District of California

2012 WL 1598403, 102 U.S.P.Q.2d 1606 (2012)

Facts

Between 1977 and 1979, singer Victor Willis (defendant) was approached by a French corporation, Scorpio Music S.A. (Scorpio) (plaintiff) to translate lyrics or provide new lyrics to 33 songs owned by Scorpio. Willis became one of multiple credited authors of these songs, which were then performed by the Village People, a novelty disco group in which Willis performed. In a series of agreements, Willis transferred his copyright interests in the 33 compositions to Can’t Stop Music, a division of Can’t Stop Productions, Inc. (CSP) (plaintiff), the American publisher of compositions owned by Scorpio. The agreements were executed separately from agreements with the other authors. In 2011 Willis served Scorpio and CSP with a notice of termination of the post-1977 grants with respect to the 33 songs. Scorpio and CSP sought a declaratory judgment and injunction against Willis in the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. Scorpio and CSP also sought to limit Willis’s percentage ownership to the amount provided for in the original agreements. Willis moved for dismissal.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Moskowitz, C.J.)

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