T.B. Harms Company v. Eliscu

339 F.2d 823 (2d Cir.1964)


Eliscu (D) contracted with Harms (P) to use his copyright on a number of songs composed for a motion picture in 1933. P contends that D assigned his rights to certain songs to Dreyfus and that P was the successor in interest to this assignment of the rights. D denied the assignment and claims that the copyrights were properly renewed and were assigned to a Jungnickel (D1) thirty years after the alleged assignment to Dreyfus. When the contract came up for renewal, there was an argument and D brought an action in state court for declaratory relief of his rights under the contract. P brought an action in district court to determine the ownership rights to the copyright under 28 USC 1338. D's motion to dismiss the action in federal court was granted; title to the copyright was a matter of state rather than federal law. The federal court had no jurisdiction. P appealed.