A silly decision that’s bound to be overturned on appeal. Tresona is indeed a bona fide licensing agent for the creators.
The issue also goes way beyond this one teacher. The over-confident “qualified immunity” defense for “public school teachers” alone is a hoot,*** and the “fair use” defense validated by the judge that “teaching” cannot infringe on copyrights because it is automatic fair use on its face is insulting to read. This would easily grant every so-called “teacher” the right to use anything they want to for free if allowed to stand.
The ruling also evades and misstates the obvious non-teaching managerial role of this so-called teacher in a six-figure enterprise, which is indeed what the Burbank Vocal Music Association is. No explanation either from the defendants (or the newspaper) as to why our other local high schools follow all of these same rules, but that this bloated, tacky, and overly-commercialized VMA won’t:
A music-licensing firm plans to file an appeal upon recently losing a portion of a lawsuit against the operator of Burbank High School’s show choirs and its booster association.
Arizona-based Tresona Multimedia accused Burbank High’s choir director, Brett Carroll, and the Burbank High School Vocal Music Assn. of copyright infringement, according to the federal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Arizona in June…
But it was ruled earlier this month that Tresona lacked standing to three of four songs mentioned in the complaint because three of the songs had multiple songwriters who collectively owned the copyright, so it was not 100% exclusive to Tresona, said Aaron Craig, who represented Carroll in the case.
Well then, BHS needs to be sued by someone else who counts. And this particular trial court has an odd interpretation of copyright liability, as if “collective” ownership somehow voids enforcement of the individual rights of the named creators. Are they confusing it with “corporate”? (That 100% interpretation only holds in the Ninth, btw. )
It was also ruled that Carroll was “immune from the lawsuit as a public employee and that his actions were reasonable,” according to a statement from Craig’s firm.
Reached by phone on Thursday, Craig said Tresona claimed the show choirs needed to secure grand rights, but that theory was “untested,” Craig said.
“They’re really a very aggressive company that came out of nowhere with untested theories,” Craig said. “We’re thrilled for Mr. Carroll to have defeated Tresona. Tresona’s a very aggressive copyright troll.”
With whom everyone but BHS is willing to agree and work with, apparently. Clearly though, if BHS wants to play showbiz Big Boys here then they better be able to do it frigging’ right.
Here’s the sickest part though. Is this a high school we’re talking about?
Meanwhile, the vocal music association is waiting for a separate judgment on a third-party lawsuit the group filed against Squareplay Entertainment, a Los Angeles-based company that allegedly provided the group with song arrangements.
The association paid Squareplay Entertainment more than $100,000 to create the arrangements, according to court records. If the association is found liable in the Tresona case in the future, the school organization wants Squareplay Entertainment to pay for any damages.
A hundred-thousand dollars? And an arranger wouldn’t be liable for this legality anyway.
Remember when Reg Hall would pencil out his own arrangements between class periods? Usually he’d do it standing up. We’re still wondering too why Burbank canned the BHS instrumental guy right after this decision came out.
They do that kind of stuff you know. What do you want to bet that all of his groups got the proper licenses?
*** This is one of the dumbest things we’ve ever read in a court ruling, and it’s especially irresponsible given the precedent the judge admits he’s establishing:
Because it’s so uncertain to know if you’re responsible for something as a teacher, that’s reason why you shouldn’t be!
There you go. That’ll establish it. And claimed ignorance about copyright law — when the school next door is following the same rule and you’re not — is bliss! They knew that it’s not “fair use” to perform songs in school, so how come the guy at BHS didn’t?
This judge just claimed that he’d have no reason to know it at BHS. So much for the ruling.