Recording Artist Wins Copyright Infringement Suit and is awarded $29K
Lucy Rodriguez’s case highlights need to protect works
A Federal Court in San Antonio, Texas, ordered the payment of $29,000 in damages and attorney’s fees, to Corpus Christi based Tejano artist and Air Force veteran, Lucy Rodriguez, as a result of a copyright infringement lawsuit filed against music producer Eric Avalos, Avalos’ company Chavalos Music Inc. and Cortney Rico. The claim involved the song Pediré, which Rodriguez widely released and promoted in 2015, under her Emerald Records label. The song was originally composed by Juan Villarreal and Rodriguez owns the rights to the song. The dispute originated in 2017, when Rico and Avalos recorded and commercially released Pediré, without permission.
In 2018, Rodriguez’s attorneys sent cease and desist letters demanding Rico and Avalos stop their infringement. Avalos removed the song from digital distribution and offered to pay all revenue generated, totaling $31.61 dollars, and further promised to discontinue any involvement with the song.
“Based on a public claim from Rico’s promoter of 2,000 purchases, we expected higher revenue, however, the sales report only showed 36 sales. To avoid further litigation, I agreed to the proposal,” Rodriguez said.
Despite Rodriguez’s attorneys reaching out to the defendants to formally close the matter, neither defendant followed through nor were the defendants done infringing on Rodriguez’s work.
In January of 2019, Rodriguez’s rights were again infringed when Cortney Rico, publicly performed Pediré at a music venue alongside Eric Avalos, created a video of the performance and distributed it on the internet.
“Creating and distributing a music video without obtaining a synchronization license from the owner, is another way to break Copyright Law,” Rodriguez explained.
The choice to move forward via the courts was as much about exercising the protection she has under the law, as to bring caution to fellow professional musicians. “Had I not registered my work, this case would have taken much longer to resolve,” Rodriguez warns.
The US Western District Court ruled that the defendant’s actions were willful, allowing for damages, attorney’s fees and a permanent injunction banning defendants use of Pediré. Copyright Law is complex and constantly updating (as recently exemplified by the Supreme Court’s Fourth Estate decision). Ms. Rodriguez partnered with San Antonio intellectual property attorneys Brandon Cook and Mike Villarreal in achieving this victory.