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

Court Rules Question of Copyright Infringement Statutory Damages Is for the Jury

In a September 28, 2015 ruling, Judge Gregory H. Woods held, after granting summary judgment of copyright infringement, that the amount of statutory damages was a question for the jury. Given the particular facts of this case, Judge Woods noted the open legal question of whether statutory damages are recoverable for infringement of both a musical composition and of a sound recording of that composition. The Court discussed a split in the District on that question, but suggested that it would adopt the view that a sound recording is a derivative work of a musical composition, precluding the separate recovery of statutory damages. Judge Woods also noted the legal uncertainty about whether a copyright holder can recover actual damages of a copyrighted “work,” and then recover statutory damages for the same “work” (albeit of a derivative work). Because of factual issues as to both of these legal questions, Judge Woods did not need to reach a definitive conclusion about them.
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