Bridgeport Music, Inc. v. Smith

Summarized by:

  • Court: Intellectual Property Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Copyright, Transfer of Rights
  • Date Filed: 05-01-2013
  • Case #: No. 2:03–CV–72211
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit
  • LexisNexis Citation: 2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 8869
  • Westlaw Citation: 2013 WL 1811871
  • Full Text Opinion

For a motion for reconsideration to be considered, the motion must be timely and the party must have a vested interest.

Opinion (Suhrheinrich): Abrim Tilmon, Jr. ("Tilmon") created a song in 1974, and later assigned his rights to Bridgeport Music, Inc. ("Bridgeport"). The song was later unlawfully used by a second artist, and Bridgeport sued for copyright infringement. Bridgeport obtained default judgments against Defendants in 2004. In 2011, Janyce Tilmon-Jones ("Tilmon-Jones"), Tilmon's widow, sued to have the judgment set aside under Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 60(b), as she claimed that she, not Bridgeport, was the valid holder of the copyright. The district court denied this motion, stating Tilmon-Jones was not "strongly affected" by the judgments or had made a strong showing the judgments were obtained through fraud. Tilmon-Jones then filed a motion for reconsideration under the "legal representative" theory, which the lower court also denied. These two rulings were the subject of the appeal. The Sixth Circuit affirmed both rulings. In affirming, the court looked to the timeliness of the motion to vacate the judgment and found that nearly 7 years was clearly untimely. Additionally, the court looked to the release signed between the parties in 2006 as part of a settlement order. This agreement was found by the court to be "as clear as would be humanly possible" and released Bridgeport from any causes of action brought by Tilmon-Jones. Accordingly, the court of appeals AFFIRMED the verdict of the district court, in addition to awarding attorney's fees.

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