A blog about patent, copyright and trademark law in the U.S. District Court
for the Southern District of New York

Court Denies Summary Judgment in Copyright Infringement Claim Despite Conflicting Evidence About Authorship

In a January 16, 2014 ruling, Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein denied plaintiff Mayimba Music, Inc’s summary judgment motion against Sony Corporation and others in Mayimba’s copyright infringement action. Mayimba alleged that well-known Dominican Republican singer-songwriter El Cata, in collaboration with the performer Shakira, included an adapted version of Mayimba’s song Loca con su Tiguere in an album issued by Sony.

The Court wrote that to “successfully prove copyright infringement, plaintiff must show ownership of a valid copyright and unauthorized copying of constituent, original elements,” and that to “prove actual copying, plaintiff may present actual evidence of copying or indirect evidence that demonstrates proof of access.” Mayimba alleged that El Cata has access to the song because El Cata met with the song’s author “informally outside of a production studio where [the author] sang El Cata several of his songs.” El Cata then supposedly recorded the author singing Loca con su Tiguere. The song’s author later signed documents disclaiming authorship of the song and acknowledging El Cata’s ownership. Judge Hellerstein, however, found that although the evidence was questionable, “[b]arely, the issue is one for the jury to
decide,” and denied summary judgment.
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