New York Supreme Court: TF composer sues Sunbow and BMI
Friday, December 8th, 2006 12:04pm CSTCategories: Movie Related News, Press Releases, Digital Media News
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COUNTY OF ROCKLAND
Index No. 5192/00
Index No. 2821/02
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December 7, 2006, Carmel, NY
After six years of grueling litigation and four appeals which were won by her in 2006, the composer of the well-known Transformers Theme, The JEM Theme and feature songs from the JEM TV SHOW, and several other American, pop culture musical themes and songs originally composed in the 80’s for HASBRO Toys and Entertainment Properties, is finally getting her days in Court at trial in a tiny courtroom in New York Supreme Court in Carmel, NY. Anne Bryant, the composer, is seeking to recover an accounting of and payment of both performance and publishing royalties she claims should be paid to her from the producer-publisher, SUNBOW PRODUCTIONS, NY [which is now owned by its parent company LOONLAND AG, Germany] for millions of CD, VHS and DVD sales and licenses which she says use her music without paying her the royalties she says she is owed. On the eve of the December 4th trial, Bryant says she suddenly received a small check from TV Loonland for "music royalties" but Bryant says, although it is an admission of responsibility, it is a mere drop in the bucket.
The composer is also suing her performing rights society BMI claiming among other things that it allowed changes to be made to her song catalog without her authorization.
According to Bryant, the long road to trial began when she discovered that her 100% composer’s share of the hugely valuable Transformers Theme music had been reduced to a small fraction in her BMI writer’s catalogue. BMI’s counsel, Judith Saffer argues that it is not possible for BMI to police the catalogues of its many affiliated writers because they have no way of knowing if the new registrations they accept for the same title are accurate. In Saffer’ view, it’s up to the BMI writer to bring a court action against another writer if there is an infringement. Bryant says that BMI’s stated position is to remain neutral but then asks why BMI would not protect its writers by at least checking with the original registrant when a song with the same title is later presented for registration. "Others are being unjustly enriched by my music," says the composer. "It appears to me that BMI writers cannot expect their works to be safeguarded by BMI"- a performance rights organization that represents more than 300,000 affiliated songwriters, composers and publishers. The composer also claims that because of BMI’s laissez faire position, these corrupted registrations have diminished her writer’s royalties across the board, finding their way into her SONY ATV catalogue, after Sunbow passed on the altered publishing catalogues to the mega-publisher. Bryant also claims that she is not given credit for her songs in three newlyproduced Transformers television series airing on The Cartoon Network.
The composer hopes to be made whole for the millions of dollars in back royalties due to her since 1994 for her many valuable themes. And with the DreamWorks TRANSFORMERS LIVE ACTION MOVIE [#1] scheduled for release on July 4, 2007, she also seeks to secure her professional screen credits, in the event that the Dreamworks movie uses her theme.
Bryant has been represented by Patrick J. Monaghan of Monaghan, Monaghan, Lamb & Marchisio a small New Jersey and New York firm. Monaghan has represented and won settlements in the past on behalf of the former managers of the artists Meat Loaf and Billy Joel in separate cases. Sunbow is represented by Gloria Phares, Esq. a partner in the New York law firm of Patterson, Belknap, & Webb. BMI is represented by its in-house counsel Judith Saffer, Esq. Bryant says she will sue anyone who is using her music without authority. "The Transformers best days are yet to come," she says. "I look to the Court to achieve justice and secure accurate royalty accountings and payments to me in the future." I have faith in the American judicial system and I am not going to be cowed into submission by a huge corporation with millions to spend on lawyers.
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This article was last modified on Friday, December 8th, 2006 12:01pm CST