Attorneys James Sammataro and Hans Hertell, with the Miami office of Stroock & Stroock & Lavan, tell Radio Ink they have successfully defended SBS in the company’s second victorious copyright trial in the last six months. The court granted a “directed verdict” in SBS’s favor before the close of day one of the trial, ruling that the plaintiffs “miserably failed” to offer any credible evidence of SBS’s alleged infringement.
The copyright suit was filed by Latin American Music Company (“LAMCO”) and Asociación de Compositores y Editores de Música Latinoamericana (“ACEMLA”) (“Plaintiffs”), who claim to collectively own or control rights to over 40,000 musical compositions, including several famed Salsa classics performed by Celia Cruz, Hector Lavoe, and the Fania All-Stars.
The plaintiffs alleged that SBS’s radio stations had engaged in extensive copyright infringement, playing thousands of the Plaintiffs’ songs without a license. The Plaintiffs asserted that each infringement was willful and demanded $150,000 for each of the alleged infringements. After several dismissal motions, the Plaintiffs’ claim was paired to 13 musical works. After a summary judgment ruling, only six songs remained.
SBS’ attorneys said that after cross examination of the Plaintiffs’ president and main witness, the Court agreed that, not only had Plaintiffs failed to present any credible evidence of infringement, but that there were serious questions as to whether the Plaintiffs actually owned any rights to the disputed works.
SBS’s General Counsel Richard D. Lara said, “We are pleased with this victory, a decision that should have a chilling-effect on would-be plaintiffs who assert highly questionable rights that are not supported by any credible evidence of wrongdoing on the part of radio station owners and operators.”