The Daily Journal interviewed Manatt’s Robert Jacobs, co-chair of the firm’s entertainment, sports and media litigation practice, for an article on the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ skepticism in a copyright claim against the music artist Jay-Z.
Osama Fahmy sued Jay-Z and his producer for millions of dollars of profits—plus damages and an order barring further distribution—for a 1999 song. Following five days of testimony on ownership, a federal judge dismissed the case, citing lack of standing.
Even if the Ninth Circuit reverses a district court’s dismissal of copyright infringement, the publication noted, the plaintiff may not be able to sue for anything beyond injunctive relief. The plaintiff’s attorney argued that the dismissal was an error, as it ignored the plaintiff’s “moral right,” which is offered under Egyptian law—a strategy which is disputed by lawyers in the field.
Jacobs told the publication that the application of moral rights in the United States has been limited through legislation to only certain works of visual art. The fact that legislation has addressed the issue of moral rights in a limited scope doesn’t bode well for their application in this case.
“The reality is, when Congress has spoken to an issue and limited the application as clearly as they did with the [Visual Artists Rights Act], it’s a pretty clear intention that it’s not meant to be applied outside that context in the United States,” Jacobs said. “Most courts are going to honor congressional intent of that nature.”