​Complaining Work

​Defending Work

Tamita Brown, et al.

“Fish Sticks n’ Tater Tots” (song)

Audio Recording

 

Jon Manning (documentary film maker)

“Burlesque: Heart of the Glitter Tribe” (film)

Audio Recording

 

Comment by Charles Cronin

If the allegations in the Complaint are true, the obvious defendant in this dispute should be Jon Manning, who made the film that incorporated the unauthorized performance of Plaintiff’s song. It seems unlikely that Manning, or Bright Water Media (i.e., his wife and himself) have assets from which Plaintiff might draw damages, or even a settlement. Instead the Plaintiff is following the money, suing three media giants who likely had no knowledge whatever of the purported infringement, and which likely contracted to distribute the movie only after Manning assured them that there were no copyright liabilities associated with the work.

 

Accordingly, both the allegations, and the work in question, are tawdry. Manning’s attempt to attract attention by recording and circulating titillating content behind the sanctimonious fig leaf of “documentary” is as distasteful as his having used Plaintiff’s children’s song to accompany sexually meretricious imagery. If Netflix, et al. had obtained copyright assurance from Manning, perhaps their most expeditious approach is to cancel the contracts, and dump this dross from their catalogues leaving the Plaintiff and Manning to sort things out.

 

On May 27, 2020 U.S. District Judge Edgardo Ramos granted defendants’ motion to dismiss. Ramos dismissed the case “with prejudice” presumably to dissuade the plaintiff from pursuing the matter further. Ramos’s opinion pointedly observes that “the record [i.e. the Complaint] is silent as to who created the Film or when,” implying that Plaintiff deliberately avoided identifying the [presumably impecunious] party responsible for the alleged infringement to pursue deep-pocketed companies not directly involved in the purported misappropriation. The plaintiff’s suppression or avoidance of this pertinent information was unavailing as Ramos determined that, regardless who copied a brief portion of the plaintiff’s work, this copying could be defended under the doctrine of fair use. While Brown could appeal the dismissal, we optimistically believe this case has reached the end of the line, and no longer belongs in the “InPlay” portion of this website.

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Complaint: PDF

Opinion & Order by U.S. District Court (S.D. NY.) Judge Edgardo Ramos: PDF