“Striking a Chord” by Professor Eric E. Bensen

On October 24, 2008, the Los Angeles Daily Journal, California’s largest legal daily, published “Striking a Chord” by Professor Eric E. Bensen. In the article, Bensen analyzes Leadsinger, Inc. v. BMG Music Publ’g, 512 F.3d 522, 85 U.S.P.Q.2D 1257, Copy. L. Rep. (CCH) P29,499 (9th Cir. 2008), and provides background on compulsory licensing and fair use under the Copyright Act.

In Leadsinger, Inc., the Ninth Circuit considered whether a party’s sale of its karaoke device, which consisted of a microphone that, when plugged into a television set, would play music while displaying accompanying lyrics, was within the scope of its compulsory license under 17 U.S.C. § 115 or whether the party also needed lyric reprint and synchronization licenses from the copyright owners to lawfully sell its products. The Ninth Circuit held that because the device met the definition of an audiovisual work, and was thus outside the scope of a compulsory license, the additional licenses were required to avoid infringement.