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Peretti v. Authentic Brands Group, LLC

Appellants Valentina M. Peretti Acuti and Paul J. Reitnauer, III, heirs to the late songwriter and record producer Hugo Peretti, appeal from an order of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (Buchwald, J.) dismissing Appellants’ action, which sought a declaratory judgment that Appellants had validly terminated a 1983 grant of rights in the copyright to the hit song “Can’t Help Falling In Love.” The district court dismissed the action, holding that the grant, which transferred rights and interests held by the Peretti family in the renewal term of the copyright to Appellees’ predecessors-in-interest, was not a grant “executed by the author” under § 203 of the Copyright Act of 1976 and therefore that Appellants had no statutory right to terminate the grant.

We agree with the district court. The termination rights in § 203 of the Copyright Act of 1976 apply only to grants executed by the author. While Hugo Peretti’s signature is affixed to the grant document at issue, the interests at issue are the contingent rights held and transferred to the Appellees’ predecessors-in-interest by Peretti’s spouse and children, the grant of which was not and cannot be executed by the author. We therefore AFFIRM the judgment of the district court.

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