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Copyright Blog

The "Best" Settlement

Through mediation, student and music college have settled their dispute, which involved copyright, defamation, fraud, and other claims.

On January 27, 2020, Abraham Best ("Best") filed a Complaint against Visible Music College (the "College") in a Tennessee circuit court, claiming that while he was enrolled as a student at the College, Best learned that content from his essays and papers was being appropriated by a professor for use in a book. We initially reported on this case on February 4, 2020.

According to the Complaint, when Best reported this behavior to the College, the College performed an unsatisfactory investigation into the matter, downplayed the problem, and tried to keep Best quiet about it. Eventually, Best was expelled from the College in connection with the issue. The Complaint laid out several claims against the College in connection with the chain of events, including intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress, negligence, breach of contract, fraud, unjust enrichment, and defamation and slander.

The College responded by providing a Notice of Removal. The notice shifted the matter to federal court, noting that Best's claims concerning the misappropriation and exploitation of his work fit under the federal subject matter of copyright (although Best had not explicitly claimed copyright infringement).

Once the matter was in a U.S. district court, the College filed a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. In its memorandum in support of this motion, the College requested that Best's claims for negligent and intentional infliction of emotional distress, fraud, unjust enrichment, and defamation be dismissed, explaining at length why it believed these claims to be insufficiently pleaded. Best filed a response contesting these issues, referring extensively to his Complaint and explaining why his allegations satisfied the pleading requirements for the various claims.

The court never ruled on the motion to dismiss, but on June 19, 2020, a Mediation Certification was filed with the court, explaining that the parties had settled the case in full. About a month later, the parties filed a Stipulation to Dismiss with Prejudice, and the court filed its Judgement.