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ABKCO Music, Inc. v. Sagan

A collection of music publishers alleged infringement of their copyrights in 7 197 musical works when a series of live concert recordings was made available by the defendants for download and streaming on their websites. Plaintiffs sought damages and a permanent injunction pursuant to the Copyright Act. The United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (Ramos, J.) held on summary judgment that defendants had no valid licenses and therefore infringed each of the musical works, and that the principal was personally liable. The district court denied plaintiffs’ request for a permanent injunction. Two years later, after a nine-day damages trial, the jury awarded plaintiffs a minimal $189,500 in statutory damages. The district court denied plaintiffs’ motion for a new trial but awarded them roughly $2.4 million in attorneys’ fees. Defendants appeal from the district court’s summary judgment order and the order granting fees and costs. Plaintiffs cross-appeal from the district court’s denial of a permanent injunction, several evidentiary rulings, and the denial of a new trial.

We AFFIRM in part, VACATE in part, and REVERSE in part, the grant of summary judgment, and AFFIRM the denial of a permanent injunction; REJECT the challenges to the evidentiary rulings; AFFIRM the denial of plaintiffs’ motion for a new trial; VACATE the award of attorneys’ fees; and REMAND for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

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