Entertainment Law Reporter
September 2006 Volume 28 Number 4

Stage director Marion Caffey is awarded $34,000 for unlicensed performances of “Three Mo’ Tenors” by show’s own tenors

Writer/director Marion Caffey has been awarded a $34,000 copyright infringement judgment against the three tenors who starred in Caffey’s acclaimed show “Three Mo’ Tenors.” Caffey’s dispute with performers Victor Cook, Rodrick Dixon and Thomas Young arose after the company that produced show went into receivership as a result of “financial difficulties.”

After their contract with the partnership expired, Cook, Dixon and Young performed the show themselves, without Caffey or Klausner’s consent – mistakenly believing they could do so, because none of the show’s 32 songs was written or owned by Caffey.

Caffey, however, had registered a copyright in the show as a “compilation” of pre-existing songs – a copyright that covered Caffey’s selection and arrangement of the songs.

Federal District Judge Richard Holwell held that the performances infringed Caffey’s compilation copyright, because Cook, Dixon and Young had performed the show’s songs in the same order Caffey had arranged them and claimed in his copyright registration.

The gross revenues of the infringing performances amounted to $330,000, from which the judge deducted $228,000 in direct costs, overhead and income taxes. The judge then reduced the performances’ $102,000 net profits by two-thirds to $34,000, because he found that sources other than the copyrighted arrangement contributed to those profits.

Caffey v. Cook, 409 F.Supp.2d 484 , 2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 2090 (S.D.N.Y. 2006)