Sun, Oct. 17, 2004

Court Knocks Queen

CK - Washington.   In its decision of September 9, 2004 in the matter 6 U 50/04, the Cologne Court of Appeals addressed the issue of proof of citizenship of European Union artists in connection with the enforcement of the artists' copyrights in the EU. Musicians known collectively as Queen attempted such an enforcement action to stop the infringement of their New York City performance of the title We Will Rock You against a party in Germany. According to the court's press release of October 15, 2005, the court dismissed the complaint because the members of the group failed to establish their citizenship which they sought to prove by excerpts from the internet and an expert opionion. The court did not deem such evidence suitable.

The law blog questions the decision. If the German copyright law were to be construed as protecting only citizens of the European Union, does the court mean to say that works of others could be pirated in Germany? Is the decision defective because the court surprised the plaintiff without an adequate opportunity to present evidence? Or were the musicians so arrogant as to ignore basic evidentiary rules? law blog surmises that the decision does not rock.

The decision is important for American plaintiffs who may run into similar difficulties proving their citizenship, although birth certificates and a recent passport should be useful first steps to convince a German court that a complaint should not be dismissed and instead lead to evidentiary rulings that may allow for the submission of additional material supporting a citizenship claim, such as a Certificate of Citizenship issued by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigation Services agency within the Department of Homeland Security.

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