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United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
January 26, 1944
[*266] Before L. HAND, CHASE, and FRANK, Circuit Judges.
L. HAND, Circuit Judge.
The plaintiff appeals from a judgment, dismissing its complaint after trial in an action for the infringement of the copyright of a song. The infringement is conceded, but the defendant justifies on the ground that it is in equity a joint owner of the copyright. The facts, which are not in dispute, are as follows. In the year 1893, one, Edward B. Marks, composed the words for a song entitled, "December and May," which he took to a publisher of songs, named Harding, who bought it. Harding, without Mark's knowledge, engaged one Loraine, to compose music for the words, which Loraine did; and on November 9, 1893, Harding duly complied with the requirements of the then existing copyright law, published the song, and secured the copyright upon it as a "musical composition." Marks and Loraine never met until years later, and had not therefore worked in conjunction, except [**2] that Marks intended the words to be set to music which someone else should compose, and that Loraine understood that he was composing music for those particular words. On November 11, 1920, within the [*267] year before the copyright expired, Marks applied for a renewal of the copyright upon the song as a "musical composition", and procured a certificate of renewal to himself as author; and this renewed copyright is now vested by assignment in the plaintiff. Loraine never applied for renewal, but he assigned all his rights in the song to the defendant on July 20, 1940.
We decided in Maurel v. Smith, 2 Cir., 271 F. 211, that ] if one of several authors took out the copyright in his own name upon a joint work, the copyright was valid, but the copyright owner held it upon a constructive trust for the other authors. This we extended to the renewal of a copyright in Silverman v. Sunrise Pictures Corporation, 2 Cir., 273 F. 909, 19 A.L.R. 289. Carter v. Bailey, 64 Me. 458, 18 Am.Rep. 273, turned upon the fact that there was no equity in the plaintiff's [**3] bill, but assumed that the co-tenant might be liable at law, as he always has been in equity ( Minion v. Warner, 238 N.Y. 413, 144 N.E. 665, 41 A.L.R. 1412); it accords with what we have held. Hence, if the song was the joint work of Marks and Loraine, when Marks took out the renewed copyright, it was valid, but he held it upon a constructive trust for Loraine, as does the plaintiff, is assignee. There only remains to be decided whether the song was a joint work, or a "composite", as that phrase is used in §§ 23 and 24 of the Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C.A. §§ 23, 24. The plaintiff says that it was the second, and that therefore Marks could and did separately renew the copyright upon the words.
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140 F.2d 266 *; 1944 U.S. App. LEXIS 3921 **; 60 U.S.P.Q. (BNA) 257
EDWARD B. MARKS MUSIC CORPORATION v. JERRY VOGEL MUSIC CO., Inc.
Prior History: [**1] Appeal from the District Court of the United States for the Southern District of New York.
song, renewal, words, music, composed, composite
Copyright Law, Scope of Copyright Protection, Duration & Renewal, General Overview, Estate, Gift & Trust Law, Trusts, Constructive Trusts, Ownership Interests, Joint Authors & Works