Law School Case Brief
Grand Upright Music, Ltd. v. Warner Bros. Records - 780 F. Supp. 182 (S.D.N.Y. 1991)
From all of the evidence produced in the hearing, it is clear that the defendants knew that they were violating the plaintiff's rights as well as the rights of others. This callous disregard for the law and for the rights of others requires not only the preliminary injunction sought by the plaintiff but also sterner measures.
The present action was instituted by Order to Show Cause to obtain a preliminary injunction against the defendants for the improper and unlicensed use of a composition “Alone Again (Naturally)” written and performed on records by Raymond "Gilbert" O'Sullivan. Defendants admitted "that the Biz Markie album 'I Need A Haircut' embodied the rap recording 'Alone Again' which used three words from 'Alone Again (Naturally)' composed by Gilbert O'Sullivan and a portion of the music taken from the O'Sullivan recording."
Was the plaintiff entitled to obtain a preliminary injunction against the defendants for the improper use of the original composition in question?
In making a determination, the court was required to determine the owner of the copyrights to the original song and to the master recording made by the original artist. The court determined that plaintiff was the true owner of the copyrights because original copyrights were deeded to plaintiff, the original artist testified that plaintiff was the owner of the copyrights, and defendants had contacted plaintiff to obtain a license before the release of the album. Since defendants violated plaintiff's rights intentionally, the court granted injunctive relief and referred the matter to a United States Attorney to consider criminal prosecution.
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