Alex Beezley


Due to the ambiguous language of Section 504(c) of the Copyright Act of 1976, judges and legal scholars have been confounded for decades about how statutory damages should be distributed when the copyright of multiple items in a compilation has been infringed. Several circuits hold that separate statutory damages awards can be given for each item in a compilation that has been infringed if the items each have an economic value. In contrast, the Second Circuit holds that only one statutory damages award can be given for an infringed compilation unless the items contained within have been issued separately.

This Note argues that the current market has made this circuit split even more prominent, as music artists are increasingly releasing songs from albums as singles on streaming services, and the Music Modernization Act of 2018 allows songwriters to recover statutory damages for individual musical works from streaming services under some circumstances. These developments should influence the Second Circuit to reconsider the continued viability of allowing only one statutory damages award for the infringement of musical and non-musical compilations. Doing so would resolve a long-standing circuit split and result in a more reasonable interpretation of Section 504(c).

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