Monday, February 20, 2006

District Court Does Not Allow Punitive Damages for Copyright Infringement

Courts have expressed different views on whether punitive damages are available in copyright infringement actions.

One case concerned the band DADA whch released a single, “Here Today, Gone Tomorrow,” in 1992. Some years later, Sofa Express used an advertising jingle called “Here Today, Home Tomorrow.” The band sued Sofa Express for copyright infringement and requested punitive damages.

Two recent cases in the Southern District of New York allowed punitive damages to be awarded in copyright infringement cases if willful and malicious infringement is proven and if the copyright owner is barred from receiving statutory damages. However, the DADA case is notable because the Federal District Court refused to let the band collect punitive damages.

The Court based its ruling on the language of the Copyright Act which does not expressly mention punitive damages. Although the case conflicts with other cases decided in the Southern District, this court sided with the prevailing case law nationwide in interpreting the statutory language to not allow punitive damages. The Court did indicate that the Copyright Act does allow for increased statutory damages in case of willful infringement.

Calio v. Sofa Express, Inc. 368 F.Supp.2d 1290 (M.D.Fla., 2005).

Congratulations to our clients:

Producer Hal Schwartz whose film Crazy Love received nationwide distribution on the Lifetime Network on Valentine's day.

Craig Brewer, writer-director of Hustle & Flow, on his picture earning 2 Acadamy award nominations: Best Actor for Terrence Howard and Best Original Song for "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp."

Filmmaker Sherman Lau whose feature Zooey will appear in Cinequest Film Festival on March 9 and 10. Zooey won a Viewer's Voice Award on the festival's Web site.

Filmmaker Jamin Winans whose feature motion picure "11:59" opens for a two week run in Denver at Starz FilmCenter at the Tivoli. The film is rated PG-13 and stars Raymond Andrew Bailey, Liz Cunningham, Laura Fuller and Chris Kelly. |

Mark to speak on the Use of Tax Incentives to Fund Movies on March 22, 2006

Mark will be speaking on a panel on the subjeect of "Funding Tinseltown, The Next Generation of Tax-Motivated Indie Financing" on March 22, 2006. The public forum is sponsored by the Entertainment, Media, Intellectual Property and Sports Law Section of New York County Lawyer's Association. It will be held at 14 Vesey Street in New York City.

For additional information: or call 212 267.6646.