Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Sound Recordist Sues iBird For Copyright Infringement

Martyn Stewart is a nature recordist who has spent the last 30 years amassing one of the most impressive collections of nature sounds in existence. He routinely licenses his sounds for various purposes, such as movies, documentaries, commercials, websites, and occasionally software applications. Stewart was approached by a company, Mitch Waite Group, about using his bird sounds in an application that Mitch Waite Group was developing for handheld devices.
The parties discussed licensing terms, but never consummated an agreement. However, Mitch Waite Group released the iBird application for the iPhone platform and it was vastly more successful than the Mitch Waite Group had anticipated. With its success proven, Mitch Waite Group attempted to negotiate a substantially lower royalty rate than Mr. Stewart originally requested and to which Mitch Waite Group had already agreed.
The disagreement stalled the license negotiations, but sales of the iBird continued to soar. The iBird was so popular, that Apple even took notice and used the iBird in Apple's iPhone commercial. Twice. Both times featuring Mr. Stewart's bird sounds.
Having never been paid for any of the uses of his bird sounds, Mr. Stewart was forced to file a copyright infringement action against Mitch Waite Group and Apple for the use of his sounds. After successfully deflecting several attacks by Apple and Mitch Waite Group against the merits of Mr. Stewart's case, the parties resolved the matter.
Whitaker Law Group and the Mann Law Group represented Mr. Stewart in the matter.