Rock River Communications v. Universal Music Group (Ninth Circuit)

In this case, our client, Rock River Communications, issued “Roots, Rock, Remixed,” an album of remixes of early Bob Marley recordings that had been produced before the advent of federal copyright protection for phonorecordings. After Universal Music Group contacted several distributors and potential licensees and asserted that it held exclusive rights to the underlying recordings, Rock River sued Universal; on appeal, only the claim for intentional interference with prospective economic advantage. The district court granted summary judgment to Universal on the eve of trial; we entered the case in the middle of the briefing cycle in the Ninth Circuit. The Ninth Circuit agreed with us that Rock River had raised a triable issue of fact as to whether it held a valid nonexclusive license to the underlying tracks, and reinstated the case.