Fox Networks and National Geographic Channel loses music licensing lawsuit
E190523Y3．E190523Y6 | Jun. 2019（E235）
Bigin Music Inc. (大英音樂有限公司; hereinafter “Bigin”) and the other sixteen copyright owners initiated a civil action against Fox Networks Group Asia Pacific Limited, Taiwan Branch (hereinafter “FNG Taiwan”) and NGC (National Geographic Channel) Network Asia, LLC. Taiwan Branch (hereinafter “NGC Taiwan”) to seek damages payment from FNG Taiwan and NGC Taiwan for their broadcasting advertising music without paying royalty. Taiwan Taipei District Court ruled that FNG Taiwan and NGC Taiwan shall pay TWD5.73 million and TWD0.85 million, respectively, in damages.
Plaintiffs asserted that after many years of their cooperation in advertising music licensing by contract, unexpectedly FNG Taiwan and NGC Taiwan did not renew the contract with plaintiffs and refused to pay the royalty payable in 2015 upon expiration of their contract in 2014. After that, for a period beginning from 2015 through June 30, 2016, FNG Taiwan and NGC Taiwan had continued using the advertising music without plaintiffs’ consent or authorization, for which plaintiffs requested with the court for FNG Taiwan’s and NGC Taiwan’s payment of royalty.
According to the judge’s reasoning, there has been no contractual relationship for advertising music licensing by and among FNG Taiwan, NGC Taiwan, and plaintiffs since December 31, 2014. In that circumstance, FNG Taiwan’s and NGC Taiwan’s act of broadcasting the advertising music in question on their own channels, without plaintiffs’ consent or authorization, throughout the period from 2015 through June 30, 2016, should be held infringing the economic rights in and to the musical advertising works in question. Judging from the frequency and unit price with respect to music broadcasting, the judge assessed and ruled that FNG Taiwan and NGC Taiwan shall indemnify plaintiffs with FNG Taiwan paying TWD5.73 million to the 17 plaintiffs and NGC Taiwan paying TWD0.85 million to 15 of them. This case is appealable. (May 2019)