The Recording Artists Coalition (RAC) last week filed a “friend of the court” brief in the ongoing copyright-infringement suit against Napster, Billboard Bulletin reports. The brief, filed in U.S. District Court in the Northern District of California, requests that the court not accept from record-company plaintiffs any sound-recording copyright registrations that claim “work for hire” status as evidence of authorship and ownership of the recordings. The majority of registrations that have been submitted to the court carry that designation.
Last month, Judge Marilyn Hall Patel informed parties in the case of her plan to name a “special master” to address ownership issues, including the work-for-hire status of disputed works.
RAC’s brief asks the court not to rule on whether, as a matter of law, a sound recording can be eligible for work-for-hire status. It also asks that the court order the record companies to re-file their copyright registrations, identifying the artist as the original author and owner of the sound recording and the record company as the subsequent assignee.
One plaintiff, NARAS, has voluntarily re-registered a number of recording copyrights, changing the work-for-hire authorship claim to that of an assignment.