26 February 2019Copyright

Minnesota court refuses Prince copyright case

The estate of late American singer Prince cannot move forward with a copyright case in his home state of Minnesota, a court has ruled.

The singer’s estate,  Paisley Park Enterprises, brought the claim against the law firm  Brown & Rosen after it advised a sound engineer to publish the singer’s unreleased recordings.

On Friday, February 22, the US District Court for the District of Minnesota granted Brown & Rosen’s motion to dismiss the complaint for lack of personal jurisdiction.

The court ruled that Paisley had failed to establish that Brown & Rosen has “sufficient minimum contacts with Minnesota”.

In 2006, George Boxill worked as a sound engineer with Prince. After the musician’s death, Boxill sought to market and release recordings from the 2006 sessions.

Shortly after, Brown & Rosen drafted a letter to the engineer saying it believed Boxill had rights to the recordings as a joint owner.

But Paisley asserts that a confidentiality agreement with Boxill establishes that Prince solely owned the recordings.

It also said that by advising on this course of action, Brown & Rosen wrongly allowed Boxill’s company to use the letter to convince third parties to advertise and distribute the recordings.

In its latest judgment, the court said Minnesota did not have personal jurisdiction over Brown & Rosen because it did not directly sell the music, isn’t a Minnesota-based firm and does not advise Minnesota-based clients.

“Brown & Rosen’s emails, phone calls, and opinion letter are not so purposefully directed to Minnesota to justify this Court’s exercise of personal jurisdiction over Brown & Rosen,” the court said.

Paisley had also accused Brown & Rosen of contract interference, a claim which the court dismissed.

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