Real Housewives of the Northern District: Reality TV Stars Now Legal Adversaries in Copyright Battle
Though no copyright registration is identified in the complaint, an on-line record in the U.S. Copyright Office recites the following copyright registration data, identifying only Mr. Davidson as an author and reciting a 2008 creation date:
Don't Be Tardy for the Party.
Type of Work:
Sound Recording and Music
Registration Number / Date:
PAu003487169 / 2009-04-24
Don’t Be Tardy for the Party.
Don’t Be Tardy for the Party.
Compact disc + Print Material.
Ed H. Davidson, 1949- . [address identified].
Date of Creation:
Authorship on Application:
Ed H. Davidson, 1949- ; Citizenship: United States. Authorship: music, lyrics, sound recording/performance.
Rights and Permissions:
Ed H. Davidson, [address, phone number, and e-mail identified].
Davidson, Ed H., 1949-
Plaintiffs assert that Burruss and Richard “are authors and/or co-authors of Plaintiffs’ Composition and owners and/or co-owners of the copyright therein and thereto.” The complaint refers to “[a] so-called ‘split sheet’ (attched hereto as Exhibit ‘A’ and incorporated herein by reference) signed by the aforementioned individuals [that] sets forth the respective ownership interests in Plaintiffs’ Composition.” Exhibit A to the complaint is a photocopy of a document titled “Producer/Songwriter(s) Split Sheet” with the song title “Tardy for the Party” appearing at the top, followed by the statement: “We hereby confirm that percentage of contribution and our respective publishing companies for the aforementioned composition are:.” The percentages recited in that document are as follows: Burruss, 33.33%; Mr. Richard, 33.33%; Mr. Davidson, 16.66%; and Brielle Zolciak, 16.66%, with a signature appearing to follow each split percentage, although a handwritten notation indicates that that the signature as to Brielle’s split was by Ms. Zolciak-Biermann as Brielle’s parent and legal guardian. The depicted signatures as to Richard and Davidson bear mid-2009 dates; the other two signatures are undated.
The complaint alleges that Burruss and Richard produced the sound recording of “Tardy for the Party,” including Ms. Zolciak-Biermann’s vocal performance, that the recording was created on or around May 1, 2009, and that Plaintiffs co-own the copyright in the sound recording. TuneCore, Plaintiffs further allege, commercially released the song as a single record without their authorization on or around September 29, 2009. According to Amazon.com, Ferosh Records released a remixed version of that single on February 9, 2010. A month later, the label released an EP featuring the original single as well as four remixed versions of “Tardy for the Party.” The single and its remixes received mixed reviews and enjoyed modest success. The complaint asserts, on information and belief, that the single “has sold in excess of One Hundred Two Thousand (102,000) units in the United States.”
The contributions of co-author Mike Cicero to this article are gratefully acknowledged.