Yesh Music v. Lakewood Church

Summarized by:

  • Court: Intellectual Property Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Copyright
  • Date Filed: 02-14-2012
  • Case #: 4:11-CV-03095
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Ellison
  • Full Text Opinion

A licensing agreement does not entitle the licensee to perpetual use of the composition for post expiration productions. Also, to show that vicarious liability or infringement exists in copyright claims, the individual in question must supervise or at least have the ability to supervise the infringing activity, and the individual must have a financial interest in the allegedly infringing activity.

Richard Cupolo, John Emanuele and Yesh Music (“Yesh Music”) are the creators, composers, producers, arrangers, and/or copyright owners of the original musical composition and sound recording entitled “Signaling Through the Flames”. Lakewood Church (“Lakewood”), and Joel and Victoria Osteen (“the Osteens”), were issued a limited license agreement by the Plaintiffs to use the composition on their website and in certain venues for a term of one year. After the license expired, Lakewood and the Osteens continued using the composition in global broadcasts of their show, and in television advertisements marketing the Osteen’s DVD, “Supernatural.” Yesh Music alleged that defendants violated the Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. §§106, 115, and 501, by directly infringing on Yesh Music’s copyright and exclusive rights by distributing, using, commercialization, exploiting, and/or making derivatives without authorization. Yesh Music also alleged contributory copyright infringement. Lakewood and the Osteens filed a motion to dismiss all claims against them. The Court concluded that the agreement did not entitle Lakewood and the Osteens to use the Composition for post-expiration productions, and the Yesh Music’s claim against Lakewood for direct and contributory copyright infringement should not be dismissed. However, the plaintiffs failed to state a claim for direct and contributory infringement against the Osteens. Motion GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.

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