Last week, Judge Broderick denied a motion to dismiss a case brought by the copyright holders for the song “A New Day is Here at Last,” written by Perry Kibble in 1969 and performed by J.C. Davis. The suit alleged that Justin Timberlake’s 2006 hit song “Damn Girl” sampled “A New Day is Here at Last” without seeking permission from the copyright holder, a company managed by Kibble’s sister. Timberlake released the song in 2006 as part of an album and tour that received multiple Grammy and Emmy nominations. Plaintiffs discovered that “Damn Girl” had sampled “A New Day is Here at Last” in August 2015 and filed the suit in February 2016.
Among other arguments, defendants claimed that the widespread availability of the album and concert DVD put plaintiffs on notice of any possible infringement well before 2015, and hence the case was untimely. Judge Broderick rejected this argument: Continue Reading
This week, Judge Furman ordered U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross Jr. to sit for a deposition in a case challenging the constitutionality of adding a question about citizenship status to the 2020 U.S. census questionnaire. The question had not appeared on the census questionnaire since 1950; according to the complaint, the question was purposefully added to decrease the response rate among immigrant communities, leading to fewer public services and less Congressional representation in those areas.
Judge Furman had previously found that the plaintiffs had “made a strong preliminary or prima facie showing that they will find material beyond the Administrative Record indicative of bad faith” and allowed discovery into the decision to add the citizenship question back to the census. Judge Furman found that the deposition of Secretary Ross himself was required because of Secretary Ross’s high degree of personal involvement in the decision and the extent to which his credibility and intent was thus at issue Continue Reading
Yesterday, Judge Rakoff sanctioned an attorney for an objector to the $3 billion Petrobras securities litigation settlement (see our full coverage of the Petrobras litigation here). Judge Rakoff had approved the settlement over the objections, after which the objectors filed an appeal. According to the class plaintiff, the appeals were part of an “extortionist agenda” to extract a monetary settlement in exchange for dismissing their appeals.
Judge Rakoff warned against the rise of frivolous objections to class settlements: Continue Reading
In an opinion yesterday, Judge Castel denied in part a motion to compel certain drafts of sales and marketing documents withheld as privileged in an antitrust case. The plaintiff argued that the attorneys were not providing legal advice but, instead, “‘scrubbing’ or ‘vetting’ these documents ‘to avoid having a jury see the unvarnished truth.” Judge Castel disagreed, and emphasized that it is perfectly appropriate for lawyers to review documents before any wider circulation: Continue Reading
Last week, Jeffrey Atkins (better known as Ja Rule) asked Judge Castel to dismiss claims against him stemming from the “Fyre Festival,” a 2017 music festival in the Bahamas that descended into chaos after organizers were unable to deliver the luxury accommodations, celebrity chefs, and musical acts that attendees were expecting (see NYT coverage here). Plaintiffs accused Atkins specifically of making two social media posts upon which the plaintiffs relied – promising that the festival would be “the biggest FOMO-inducing event of 2017” and promising attendees the day before the festival that “the stage is set” (see complaint here).
In his motion to dismiss, Atkins argued that these two posts were the only statements upon which plaintiffs could even have claimed to relied, as other statements by Atkins did not become publicly known until after the festival occurred: Continue Reading
In an opinion yesterday, Judge Pauley denied summary judgment in a case alleging that a certain rodent repeller devices are ineffective, contrary to the defendant’s allegedly false representations.
He noted that the parties had filed over 40,000 words in briefing the issues, but that three photos (including the one below) were sufficient to decide the motion. The photos showed that “mice can apparently relax comfortably under a Repeller and even appear to be so drawn in by its siren song that one would scale a wall just to snooze on it,” which left “this Court wondering how [the defendant] can argue that there is no disputed issue of material fact as to efficacy.”
Last week, Airbnb filed a complaint challenging the city’s new ordinance requiring homesharing platforms to share data about hosts and guests to the Mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement. According to Airbnb, the new ordinance allows the city to collect wide-ranging categories of non-public information:
“[T]he Ordinance requires Internet homesharing platforms to turn over personal information about their hosts, much of which is not made public through the platforms. The Ordinance also requires homesharing platforms to turn over their own non-public and commercially sensitive information, including detailed breakdowns of revenues and technical information about listings. To the extent a platform collects rent, it is also required to hand over highly sensitive bank account information about how guests choose to pay and how much. All of this is data the Office of Special Enforcement could not otherwise obtain without precompliance review, and the Ordinance permits that agency to use and share the data however and whenever it chooses, without any meaningful limitation. In so doing, the Ordinance breaches critical privacy protections both for homesharing platforms like Airbnb and for the New Yorkers who share their homes on these platforms. Put another way, the Homesharing Surveillance Ordinance requires Airbnb to report on a monthly basis volumes of otherwise private information about who New Yorkers choose to invite into their homes, where those homes are located, when and for how long the guests stay, and what the guests are doing there.
According to Airbnb, the ordinance is the result of a lobbying effort by New York’s hotel industry to prevent competition from homesharing sites.
The complaint asks for injunctive relief, claiming that the new ordinance violates the First Amendment, the Fourth Amendment, and the federal Stored Communications Act.
The case is currently pending before Judge Engelmayer.
In an opinion last week, Judge Stanton granted video game manufacturer Take-Two’s request for an injunction against the creator of two software programs that allowed users to cheat at Take-Two’s “Grand Theft Auto V” video game. Among other functions, the computer programs allow users to use an unlimited amount of in-game currency that otherwise had to be purchased from Take-Two. Take-Two alleged that the cheat software violated Take-Two’s copyright in “Grand Theft Auto V” and also violated the terms of the user agreement.
In granting the preliminary injunction, Judge Stanton focused on the harm to both the public as well as Take-Two: Continue Reading
Last week, Judge Daniels granted in large part a summary judgment motion that Characters For Hire, a company that provides costumed characters for children’s events, had filed in response to trademark, unfair competition and and similar claims. According to the plaintiffs (Disney, Marvel, and Lucasfilm), Characters for Hire’s costumes, including ones named “Frozen Themed,” “Avenging Team,” and “Star Battles,” are strikingly similar to well-known characters from the plaintiffs’ Frozen, Avengers, and Star Wars franchises.
Judge Daniels rejected the plaintiffs’ claims of consumer confusion, noting that whether children believed the generic characters were the same as the more famous Disney versions was irrelevant: Continue Reading