On April 12, 2023, U.S District Judge Andrew J. Carter Jr., of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York dismissed a case filed by Bobby Nunn against NBC Universal and the NFL.
The dispute arose when Nunn, a prominent music producer, songwriter, and singer, discovered the unauthorized use of his 80’s hit song “Rocket 2U” during a January 2022 NFL broadcast. Nunn did not receive any compensation for the broadcast. Nunn promptly contacted the NFL and NBC. NBC airs the “NFL’s “Sunday Night Football” broadcast. The NFL and NBC stone walled Nunn, so Nunn field a lawsuit against them on July 13, 2022.
In their February 6, 2023, answer to the complaint, the NFL and NBC Universal attempted to defend the unauthorized use of Nunn’s song by claiming that they possessed the necessary license to broadcast the music. Further, they argued that even if the license did not grant them the right to use “Rocket 2U”, their use of the song fell within the realm of “fair use.”
Under the Copyright Act, unlicensed usage of copyright-protected work is not considered infringement if it is “fair use”, which applies in specific circumstances such as criticism, news and for educational purposes.
While the issue of “fair use” was never decided, on April 10, 2023, the parties reached a settlement that “will resolve all claims at issue.” Author’s Note: it was unlikely that the NFL’s use of the song would be considered fair use nor that it had the requisite license to use the song on a television broadcast.
Nunn is represented by Scott A. Burroughs of Doniger/Burroughs Law Firm.
The NFL and NBC are represented by Tal E. Dickstein, Barry I. Slotnick and Edward J. Delham of Loeb & Loeb LLP.
The case is Nunn v. NFL Enterprises LLC et al., the case number is 1:22-cv-05977, in the U.S District Court for the Southern District of New York.
* Lowe & Associates (“The Firm”) is a boutique entertainment and business law firm located in Beverly Hills, California. The firm has extensive experience handling cases involving music law, having provided top-quality legal services to its clients since 1991. The Firm is recognized for its many achievements, including successfully litigating many high-profile cases.