Publishers awarded $189k in damages in Wolfgang’s case


A long-running legal action against Wolfgang’s Vaults over its streaming of archive concerts has resulted in music publishers being awarded $189,500 in damages.

There were 197 separate songs listed in the suit, with 167 of them were deemed to have been wilfully infringed. That means that the per-song infringement worked out at $1,000 each, far below the normal statutory rate of $150,000 per song for wilfully infringement.

For the 30 songs not deemed to have been wilfully infringed, the rate was set at $750 per song (again, far below the presumed $30,000 damages per song).

Wolfgang’s Vaults came into being having acquired the concert archive of legendary promoter Bill Graham who was a key figure in the 1960s counter culture with the Fillmore and Winterland in San Francisco. (Graham was born Wulf Wolodia Grajonca, hence the Wolfgang’s Vault monicker.)

Led by the National Music Publishers’ Association, legal action against Wolfgang’s Vaults began in 2015 and in 2018 the judge in the case ruled for the publishers; but it took a further two years to reach the settlement fee. This delay from the ruling to actually setting the damages was down to the jury in the case going for a figure far below the statutory damages rate the publishers were originally seeking in the litigation.

Eamonn Forde

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