Online Sheet Music Creates Legal Headache

(CN) – California-based Online Sheet Music sued MusicNotes, claiming its Wisconsin-based rival copied its work and asserted ownership claims to songs to which it holds no valid license or copyright.
     Online Sheet Music, of Los Angeles, sued MusicNotes in Los Angeles Federal Court.
     Online Music is an digital sheet music store, which claims it offers for sale nearly 140,000 musical compositions.
     In most cases, it says in the lawsuit, it uses printed sheet music to create digital sheet music; at times, it creates and arranges digital sheet music from recordings of the composition.
     In each case, Online Music says, it has a license stipulating it is creating a work for hire for the copyright holder, and has the holder’s express permission to copy, distribute and the display sheet music.
     “For years,” Online claims in the lawsuit, “defendant has copied and offered for sale sheet music offered and/or created by plaintiff, and plaintiff has copied and offered for sale sheet music offered and/or created by defendant.
     “In doing so and in order to avoid any misimpression that defendant endorses or sponsors plaintiff or plaintiff’s Internet-based store, and also to avoid violating the licenses received from copyright proprietors or their administrators or licensees, plaintiff has removed defendant’s logo or other identifying marks that defendant has added to the copyright proprietor’s sheet music.”
     MusicNotes claimed Online violated its copyrights on the arrangement or layout of the sheet music, and violated the Lanham Act by removing its identifying marks, Online says in the complaint. MusicNotes demanded that Online cease and desist from copying or offering certain sheet music for sale.
     Online says in its complaint: “Plaintiff contends that to the extent defendant’s copying, creation and sale of sheet music is not authorized by the copyright proprietors, defendant’s sheet music infringed the copyright proprietors copyrights, and to the extent defendant’s copying, creation and sale of sheet music is authorized by the copyright proprietors, defendant has no rights to the sheet music, including but not limited to no rights in the ‘arrangement’ or ‘layout’ of that sheet music.”
     Alternatively, Online claims that the “so-called ‘arrangement’ or ‘layout’ of the sheet music and in which defendant claims copyright, is not original to defendant or otherwise is not copyrightable subject matter owned by defendant.”
     Online claims that MusicNotes’ assertion of rights in or to the sheet music, including its claim of copyright and placement of its logo or other identifying marks on the sheet music, violates licenses the defendant received from the copyright proprietors or licensees, exceeds the rights the defendant received under those licenses, and/or interferes with the rights that have been licensed to plaintiff by the copyright proprietors or their administrators or licensees.
     Online Sheet Music seeks declaratory judgment that MusicNotes has no ownership or other rights in the sheet music the two companies copy, create and offer for sale; that defendant does not own copyright rights in the claimed “arrangement” or “layout” of sheet music it has copied, created and/or offered for sale; that the licenses the plaintiff has received from copyright holders or their administrators authorize it to copy and sell sheet music copied and offered for sale by the defendant; and that the defendant’s claims regarding its identifying marks and rights to arrangement or layout are improper, abusive and interferes with plaintiff’s rights, under its licenses to sell the sheet music in dispute.
     Finally, Online Sheet Music claims that if the defendant’s claims of the plaintiff’s conduct are found to be true, “defendant has engaged and engages in the same or similar conduct and, accordingly, defendant has unclean hands barring defendant from asserting the rights and claims defendant asserts.”
     Online Sheet Music is represented by Peter Anderson of Santa Monica.

%d bloggers like this: