This case calls for an adjudication of the ownership of the right to renew the copyright upon the song, "That Old Gang of Mine." The song was written by Billy Rose, Mort Dixon and Ray Henderson.
The song was first registered with the Copyright Office on April 23, 1923 as an unpublished work. Under Section 24 of the Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. § 24, and Section 202.17(a) of the Rules of the Copyright Office, 37 C.F.R., application for renewal of a copyright upon a work originally registered in an unpublished form must occur within the twenty-eighth year of the copyright term. It is settled that prior to the renewal period an author's interest in the renewal rights is only an expectancy which can be defeated by his death prior to the commencement of the renewal period. See Miller Music Corp. v. Charles N. Daniels, Inc., 80 S.Ct. 792. However the author may assign this expectancy and the assignment is valid against the world if the author is alive at the commencement of the renewal period. Fred Fisher Music Co. v. M. Witmark & Sons, 1943, 318 U.S. 643, 63 S.Ct. 773, 87 L. Ed. 1055; Miller Music Corp. v. Charles N. Daniels, Inc., supra, 80 S.Ct. 792, 794. In this case the renewal period began on April 24, 1950, and since all three authors were alive on that date, the case falls within the rule of Fred Fisher Music Co. v. M. Witmark & Sons, supra.
The Fisher case indicated that an author might challenge the validity of his assignment of his expectancy in the renewal rights if the consideration for the assignment was inadequate. Judge Dimock held that the 1923 assignment was supported by adequate consideration and we adopt his excellent analysis of the question as applied to the facts of this case, 176 F.Supp. 605, 611-612. See also Gumm v. Jerry Vogel Music Co.,
It is clear that unlike the 1910 agreement in Rossiter v. Vogel, 2 Cir., 1943, 134 F.2d 908, the 1923 assignment before us conveyed renewal rights, and this court has repeatedly held that a power of attorney to apply for renewal rights will be implied from the fact of the assignment. See Rossiter v. Vogel, supra, at page 911. Therefore we affirm Judge Dimock's conclusion that appellee, having made a timely filing for renewal, is the present legal owner of the renewal copyright.
Appellants also object to Judge Dimock's award to appellee of $7,500 in attorney's fees. The reasons for this award are to be found in the opinion below, 176 F.Supp. 605, 612. Under 17 U.S.C. § 116 the district court may award the prevailing party a reasonable attorney's fee as part of the costs. There is no abuse of discretion here.