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Monday, December 11, 2023 | Back issues
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Singing Telegram Suit|Falls on Deaf Ears

CHICAGO (CN) - A singing telegram performer cannot pursue copyright infringement claims against a company that hired her to perform at its award event, the 7th Circuit ruled.

SilverEdge Systems Software hired Catherine Conrad to perform a singing telegram in February 2011.

The Schaumburg, Ill., company recorded the performance to post on its website, but Conrad told SilverEdge representatives after the performance that they would have to pay $40,000 for a six-month license to her voice, image and song.

SilverEdge declined to pay the amount and informed Conrad that the footage would not be used. Instead, it posted footage of a different singing telegram, performed by Hugabug Family Entertainment.

Conrad later sued SilverEdge; its president, Maria Vedral; and the videographer for copyright infringement, claiming that she had not given permission to record the performance of her song. She later alleged that SilverEdge had violated her right-of-publicity by posting the video on their website for four months, though the company's web developer denied such use.

Evidence uncovered during discovery showed that Conrad knew the performance would be filmed and agreed to wear a microphone when she sang to assist with the recording.

Conrad's deposition testimony that she saw the video online for four months also contradicted what she had written in her amended complaint.

U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb granted summary judgment for the defendants, finding that they had permission to film the performance and were not required to return the video when they decided not to pay the licensing fee.

Conrad also waived any claims related to posting the video online, she found.

The 7th Circuit affirmed in an unpublished opinion last week.

"Conrad argues that the district court erred in granting summary judgment by ignoring a factual dispute concerning whether the video was posted on the SilverEdge website for four months," the unsigned opinion states.

"But Conrad did not raise this issue in her amended complaint and has therefore waived the argument on appeal," the three-judge panel added.

"Furthermore, as the court also correctly noted, Conrad is bound by what she said in her pleadings ... and in her amended complaint she admitted that she did not know if SilverEdge had ever used the video online."


Link to the replacement video (by Hugabug Family Entertainment):

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