Law School Case Brief
Capitol Records, LLC v. ReDigi Inc. - 934 F. Supp. 2d 640 (S.D.N.Y. 2013)
The Copyright Act of 1976 provides that a copyright owner has the exclusive right to reproduce the copyrighted work in phonorecords. 17 U.S.C.S. § 106(1). Copyrighted works are defined to include, inter alia, "sound recordings," which are works that result from the fixation of a series of musical, spoken, or other sounds. 17 U.S.C.S. § 101. Such works are distinguished from their material embodiments. These include phonorecords, which are the material objects in which sounds are fixed by any method now known or later developed, and from which the sounds can be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated, either directly or with the aid of a machine or device. § 101. Thus, the plain text of the Act makes clear that reproduction occurs when a copyrighted work is fixed in a new material object
Defendant ReDigi Inc. was an online marketplace for digital used music. Plaintiff Capitol Records, LLC (Capitol), which owned a number of the recordings sold on Redigi’s website, commenced the present action, alleging multiple violations of the Copyright Act, including direct copyright infringement, inducement of copyright infringement, contributory and vicarious copyright infringement, and common law copyright infringement. Capitol filed its motion for partial summary judgment on the claims that ReDigi directly and secondarily infringed Capitol's reproduction and distribution rights. ReDigi filed its cross-motion the same day, seeking summary judgment on all grounds of liability, including ReDigi's alleged infringement of Capitol's performance and display rights.
Was Capitol entitled to partial summary judgment on its claims alleging infringement of its reproduction and distribution claims?
The federal district court held that Capitol was entitled to summary judgment, as ReDigi directly and secondarily infringed the former’s copyright because its unauthorized sale of digital music files on its website infringed the label's exclusive rights of reproduction and distribution under 17 U.S.C.S. § 106(1) and (3). According to the Court, neither the fair use defense under 17 U.S.C.S. § 107 nor the first sale defense under 17 U.S.C.S. § 109(a) applied.
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