Second Circuit: Copyright Statutory Damages Not Available For Each Song In A Music Album

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The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit recently affirmed a district court decision finding that a copyright owner was entitled to only one award of statutory damages for its music album compilation even though individual songs on the album were registered independently with the U.S. Copyright Office. Bryant v. Media Right Productions, Inc., No. 09-2600, 2010 WL 1659113, at *3–*5 & n.4 (2d Cir. Apr. 27, 2010). The appellate court also affirmed the district court’s award of only $2,400 in statutory damages based on the copying of twenty songs on two music albums. Id., at *5–*6. This decision may reduce the amount of statutory damages that copyright holders can obtain for infringement of music albums and compilations in the Second Circuit. The decision also may decrease the incentive for potential infringers to avoid engaging in wholesale copying of albums and compilations.

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