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Whafhsd-#19981-V1-Warner Complaint (Siegel)[1]

Whafhsd-#19981-V1-Warner Complaint (Siegel)[1]

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Published by Eriq Gardner
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complaint

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Published by: Eriq Gardner on Jun 21, 2013
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07/06/2013

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12345678910111213141516171819202122232425262728BETSY C. MANIFOLD (182450)
 
manifold@whafh.comWOLF HALDENSTEIN ADLERFREEMAN & HERZ LLP750 B Street, Suite 2770San Diego, CA 92101Telephone: 619/239-4599Facsimile: 619/234-4599RANDALL S. NEWMAN (190547)rsn@randallnewman.netRANDALL S. NEWMAN PC37 Wall Street, Penthouse DNew York, NY 10005Telephone: 212/797-3737Facsimile: 212/797-3172Attorneys for Plaintiff [Additional counsel appear on signature page.]
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURTCENTRAL DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIAWESTERN DIVISION
ROBERT SIEGEL, On Behalf Of Himself And All Others SimilarlySituated,Plaintiff,v.WARNER/CHAPPELL MUSIC,INC.,Defendant.))))))))))))))))Case No.
COMPLAINT FOR DECLARATORYJUDGMENT; INJUNCTIVE ANDDECLARATORY RELIEF; ANDDAMAGES FOR: (1) INVALIDITYOF COPYRIGHT UNDER THECOPYRIGHT ACT (17 U.S.C. §§ 101
et seq.
); AND (2) VIOLATIONS OFCALIFORNIA UNFAIRCOMPETITION LAWS (Cal. Bus. &Prof. Code §§ 17200
et seq.
)
 
CLASS ACTION
DEMAND FOR JURY TRIAL
 
 
- 1 -12345678910111213141516171819202122232425262728Plaintiff Robert Siegel (“Siegel”), on behalf of himself and all others similarlysituated, by his undersigned attorneys, as and for his Class Action Complaint againstdefendant Warner/Chappell Music, Inc. (“Warner/Chappell”), alleges as follows:
JURISDICTION AND VENUE
 1.
 
The Court has subject-matter jurisdiction over this action pursuant to28 U.S.C. § 1331 and 28 U.S.C. § 1338 with respect to claims seeking declaratoryand other relief arising under the Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. §§ 101
et seq.
; pursuantto the Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. §§ 2201
et seq
.; pursuant to the ClassAction Fairness Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d)(2); and supplemental jurisdiction pursuantto 28 U.S.C. § 1367 over the entire case or controversy.2.
 
The Court has personal jurisdiction and venue is proper in this Districtunder 28 U.S.C. §§ 1391(b)-(c) and 28 U.S.C. § 1400(a), in that the claims arise inthis Judicial District where defendant Warner/Chappell’s principal place of businessis located and where Warner/Chappell regularly conducts business and may befound.
INTRODUCTION
 3.
 
This is an action to declare invalid the copyright that defendantWarner/Chappell claims to own to the world’s most popular song,
 Happy Birthdayto You
(the “Song”), to declare that
 Happy Birthday to You
is dedicated to public useand in the public domain; and to return millions of dollars of unlawful licensing feescollected by defendant Warner/Chappell pursuant to its wrongful assertion of copyright ownership of the Song.4.
 
According to the United States Copyright Office (“Copyright Office”),a
musical composition
consists of music, including any accompanying words, andis normally registered as a work of the performing arts.Copyright Office Circular56A, “Copyright Registration of Musical Compositions and Sound Recordings,” at 1(Feb. 2012) (available at www.copyright.gov/circs/circ.56a.pdf). The author of amusical composition generally is the composer, and the lyricist (if a different
 
 
- 2 -12345678910111213141516171819202122232425262728person).
 Id 
.5.
 
More than 120 years after the melody to which the simple lyrics of 
 Happy Birthday to You
is set was first published, defendant Warner/Chappellboldly, but wrongfully and unlawfully, insists that it owns the copyright to
 Happy Birthday to You
, and with that copyright the exclusive right to authorize the song’sreproduction, distribution, and public performances pursuant to federal copyrightlaw. Defendant Warner/Chappell either has silenced those wishing to record orperform
 Happy Birthday to You
, or has extracted millions of dollars in unlawfullicensing fees from those unwilling or unable to challenge its ownership claims.6.
 
Irrefutable documentary evidence, some dating back to 1893, showsthat the copyright to
 Happy Birthday to You
, if there ever was a valid copyright toany part of the song, expired no later than 1921 and that if defendantWarner/Chappell owns any rights to
 Happy Birthday to You
, those rights are limitedto the extremely narrow right to reproduce and distribute specific pianoarrangements for the song published in 1935. Significantly, no court has everadjudicated the validity or scope of the defendant's claimed interest in
 Happy Birthday to You
, nor in the song's melody or lyrics, which are themselvesindependent works.7.
 
Plaintiff Siegel, on behalf of himself and all others similarly situated,seeks a declaration that
 Happy Birthday to You
is dedicated to public use and is inthe public domain as well as monetary damages and restitution of all the unlawfullicensing fees that defendant Warner/Chappell improperly collected from Siegel andall other Class members.
PARTIES
 8.
 
Plaintiff Robert Siegel is the assignee of BIG FAN PRODUCTIONS,INC. (“BIG FAN”), an inactive New York corporation. Mr. Siegel is a resident of New York, New York. Under a claim of copyright by defendant Warner/Chappell,on or about September 1, 2009, BIG FAN paid to defendant Warner/Chappell the

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