Saturday, December 1, 2012

Songbyrd, Inc. v. Estate of Grossman case brief

Songbyrd, Inc. v. Estate of Grossman
Property Law Case Brief

Subject:  Statute of Limitations.

Case Overview:
Songbyrd (P) sued to recover from the estate of Grossman (D) damages for the use of certain music tracks.

Case Facts:
-In the early 1970s, the predecessor in interest to the defendant, now doing business as Bearsville Records (“Bearsville”), made several recordings of the performances of musician Henry Roeland Byrd (“Byrd”).
-Although representatives of Byrd requested that the tapes be returned to Byrd, the requests apparently went unanswered.
-The tapes remained in Bearsville’s possession, and Bearsville then licensed the content of the tapes for use in two compilations.
-These compilations were released in 1987 and 1991, respectively.
-The parties then disputed whether the statute of limitations had run on any action to recover the recordings.

Issue:
Does the statute of limitations bar Songbyrd from recovering the recording?

Holding:
Yes, the statute of limitations bars Songbyrd from recovering.

Analysis:
In general, the statute of limitations for the recovery of chattels begins at the time of conversion. The time of conversion is defined to be the time at which the actual possessor acts to exclude the rights of the true owner. Bearsville made such an action when it authorized tracks for release in the first compilation in 1986. The applicable statute of limitations being three years, there is no question that Songbyrd had waited too long by the time it sued in 1995. Although Songbyrd appeals to apparently contrary precedent in Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation v. Lubell, that case is not relevantly similar to the current case.

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