United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana
RULING AND ORDER
W. deGRAVELLES JUDGE.
the Court is a Motion to Dismiss or for Summary Judgment
filed by Defendant UMG Recordings, Inc.
(“Defendant”). (“Motion, ” Doc. 54).
Plaintiff Desmond Mapp (“Plaintiff”) has filed an
Opposition, (Doc. 60), and Defendant has filed a Reply in
further support of the Motion. (Doc. 61).
reasons stated below, Defendant's Motion is granted.
is a record producer, singer, and songwriter residing in
Baton Rouge, Louisiana. (Doc. 51 at 2). Defendant is a
Delaware corporation with its principal place of business in
California that is engaged in the business of manufacturing,
distributing, and selling records in various mediums and
formats. (Id. at 2).
Music, LLC (“Tyga Music”) is an entity formed to
furnish the recording services of Michael Stevenson
(“Tyga”) exclusively to Young Money
Entertainment, LLC (“Young Money”).
(Id.). Young Money is “party to an
agreement” with Cash Money Records, Inc. (“Cash
Money”) providing Cash Money the right to exclusively
manufacture, distribute, promote, and exploit records from
Young Money. (Id. at 2-3). At all relevant times,
Defendant exclusively provided Cash Money access to record
manufacturing and distribution services “throughout the
World.” (Id. at 3).
November 2011, Plaintiff produced a wordless musical
composition entitled “Molly.” (Id.). He
was the owner of the copyright in this composition and
“all exclusive rights under copyright.”
September 2012, Plaintiff signed an agreement offering to
“convey” Molly to Tyga Music so that Tyga could
add lyrics. (Id.). Tyga Music agreed to pay
Plaintiff an advance of $10, 000 plus royalties based on the
sale of the completed composition. (Id.). After Tyga
added lyrics, Tyga and Tyga Music “conveyed”
copyright in the completed composition to Young Money and
Cash Money “and/or their agents and assigns.”
(Id. at 4).
later date, Young Money or Cash Money “conveyed”
copyright in the completed composition to Defendant, which
began exploiting it as a single in March 2013 and on
Tyga's album in April 2013. (Id.).
Music never paid Plaintiff the advance or the full value of
the royalties. (Id. at 4-5). Therefore, Plaintiff
filed suit in state court and, in April 2015, the agreement
between Plaintiff and Tyga Music was judicially dissolved,
with the court reserving to Plaintiff the right to seek
damages. (Id. at 5).
2015, Plaintiff sent Cash Money and Defendant a
cease-and-desist letter notifying them that the agreement
between him and Tyga Music had been dissolved.
(Id.). In August 2015, Plaintiff filed a copyright
registration for the version of Molly without lyrics and has
received confirmation of the filing of his copyright case and
made a “complete material deposit.”
to Plaintiff, Plaintiff and Defendant are the co-owners of
the completed composition “[b]y virtue of the exclusive
transfer of copyright ownership by [Tyga], Tyga Music, Young
Money and/or Cash Money to [Defendant] (i.e. [Defendant]
stepping into the shoes of [Tyga], Tyga Music, Young Money
and/or Cash Money) and the dissolution of the September 1,
2012 Agreement.” (Id. at 6). Defendant has
sold thousands of copies of Tyga's album and of the
completed composition, and also has leased, licensed, or
rented the completed composition, but Defendant has failed to
pay Plaintiff his share of the income earned from the
completed composition. (Id. at 5-6). Plaintiff also
contends that Defendant “claims to be the exclusive
transferee of copyright” in the completed composition.
(Id. at 4).
foregoing grounds, Plaintiff's Third Amended Complaint
seeks an accounting of the profits earned from the completed
composition and alleges claims of “unjust
enrichment/quantum meruit/constructive trust, ”
conversion, and negligence. (Id. at 7-10).
action was initiated on September 9, 2015, by the filing of a
Complaint (Doc. 1), which was superseded almost immediately
by an Amended Complaint (Doc. 2). In relevant part, the
Amended Complaint alleged that Plaintiff was the sole
copyright holder in Molly and that Defendant had infringed
Plaintiff's “copyright and exclusive rights under
copyright” by distributing or selling Molly without
Plaintiff's “permission or consent.”
(Id. at 5-6). The Amended Complaint also raised
state law claims for “unlawful, unfair, and/or
fraudulent business practices.” (Id. at 8).
moved for judgment on the pleadings, (Doc. 16), and the Court
ultimately granted the motion, (Doc. 44). The Court analyzed
the authorship of the completed composition and ruled that
“the evidence, even viewed in light most favorable to
Plaintiff, indisputably shows that [the completed
composition] was a joint work by [Tyga] and Plaintiff.
Therefore, they are coauthors and co-owners.” (Doc. 44
Court then considered the scope of the rights that Tyga could
convey or license to Cash Money and, ultimately, to
Defendant. (Id. at 17-24). The Court ruled that Tyga
could grant an “exclusive license” as to his own
interest but not as to Plaintiff's interest;
“Plaintiff, for all intents and purposes, may regard
the alleged ‘exclusive license' as a nonexclusive
license that does not infringe upon his copyright.”
(Id. at 23). The Court also dismissed
Plaintiff's state law claims for lack of supplemental
jurisdiction. (Id. at 29-31). Plaintiff moved for
reconsideration of the dismissal of his state law claims,
arguing that diversity jurisdiction existed. (Doc. 45). The
Court ruled that it would permit Plaintiff to further amend
his pleadings to clearly allege diversity jurisdiction. (Doc.
48 at 10, 15). The Court also stated that Plaintiff was
“free to allege additional state law causes of action
under the facts currently alleged.” (Id. at
12). It also stated that Plaintiff would not be permitted
“leave to allege new factual allegations to which
Defendants did not already have notice.” (Id.
at 14; see also Id. at 15 (“Plaintiff will not
be permitted to state new factual allegations in his amended
Third Amended Complaint was filed June 7, 2017. (Doc. 51).
The Motion to Dismiss or for Summary Judgment
moves to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
(“Rule”) 12(b)(6) or, in the alternative, for
summary judgment. (Doc. 54 at 1). First, Defendant argues
that Plaintiff's allegation that he and Defendant co-own
the completed composition is a “new factual
allegation” of which Defendant did not have notice and
is inconsistent with his prior allegations and theories and
the Court's prior ruling. (Doc. 54-1 at 6-7). Relatedly,
Defendant argues that, consistent with the Court's prior
ruling, it is a licensee, not a co-owner, and as such it is
not susceptible to a claim for an accounting. (Id.
Defendant argues that the Copyright Act preempts
Plaintiff's unjust enrichment, conversion, and negligence
claims. (Id. at 11-16). Defendant further maintains
that Plaintiff's unjust enrichment, conversion, and
negligence claims are prescribed under state law.
(Id. at 16-17). Finally, Defendant argues that (1)
unjust enrichment is unavailable because Plaintiff has other
remedies at law; (2) Plaintiff's conversion claim fails
because he did not allege interference with “a moveable
or chattel”; and (3) Plaintiff's negligence claim
fails because he has not alleged facts to support the
conclusion that Defendant owed him a duty. (Id. at
opposition, Plaintiff first claims that Defendant is a
transferee of a co-ownership interest in the completed
composition because it received an exclusive license from
Cash Money to distribute “Cash Money product” in
the United States. (Doc. 60 at 4-7). Next, Plaintiff argues
that Defendant did not timely oppose the filing of the Third
Amended Complaint and that Defendant had notice of
Plaintiff's allegations, as they are based on
Defendant's “agreements with Cash Money, the scope
of the rights granted and the legal effect of the exclusive
grant of rights.” (Id. at 7-8). Plaintiff
argues that, because Defendant and Plaintiff are co-owners of
“at least some quantum of copyright, ” an action
for accounting is proper, and the Court should deny the
Motion or delay ruling until discovery is complete.
(Id. at 8-9).
also contends that his claims for unjust enrichment,
conversion, and negligence are not preempted by the Copyright
Act and that the prescriptive period for these claims began
to run in June 2015, when Defendant continued distributing
the song after receiving a cease-and-desist letter.
(Id. at 9-10). Plaintiff also requests that, if the
Court considers this motion as a motion for summary ...