NMPA Members Secure Critical Victory Over Wolfgang’s Vault
For Immediate Release: April 10, 2018
Media Contact: Charlotte Sellmyer
Washington, D.C. – After nearly three years of litigation, NMPA publisher members Sony/ATV and EMI Music Publishing, Warner/Chappell, ABKCO, peermusic, Spirit Music, and Imagem Music, have secured an important win in their ongoing efforts against Wolfgang’s Vault, a prolific online distributor of unlicensed recordings. The copyrights in the suit include songs written by members of bands such as The Rolling Stones, The Who, The Talking Heads, R.E.M. and Green Day.
NMPA President & CEO David Israelite released the following statement on the victory: “Judge Ramos’ opinion is a dramatic vindication for our members Sony/ATV & EMI Music Publishing, Warner/Chappell, ABKCO, peermusic, Spirit Music, and Imagem Music whose works have been willfully infringed by Wolfgang’s Vault for years. NMPA is pleased to fully support its members in bringing their case and we look forward to the next phase where damages will be determined.”
Israelite added, “We wholeheartedly encourage fans being able to access the footage they want to watch, however the provider of that footage must obtain proper licenses and pay those who created and own it. We will continue to support this effort to ensure that copyright holders and songwriters rights’ are upheld.”
In a 54-page Opinion issued on March 30, 2018 (and made public on April 9), Judge Ramos of the Southern District of New York found all Wolfgang’s Vault defendants had infringed all copyrighted works at issue. Significantly, the Court found that Wolfgang’s Vault had willfully infringed all works which they had exploited in audio/visual format and certain other works for which they had failed to demonstrate the necessary consents required under the Copyright Act.
While the Summary Judgment determination only addresses the liability of the Wolfgang’s Vault defendants, the finding of willful infringement carries with it the possibility for an award of statutory damages under the Copyright Act of up to $150,000 for each infringement in the action. The case will next turn to assess Wolfgang’s Vault’s monetary liability for their infringement.