Mick Jagger and Keith Richards Move to Dismiss ‘Living in a Ghost Town’ Lawsuit

The Rolling Stones have filed a 'Motion to Dismiss' the copyright infringement lawsuit by Spanish songwriter Sergio Garcia Fernandez.
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The Rolling Stones have filed a 'Motion to Dismiss' the copyright infringement lawsuit by Spanish songwriter Sergio Garcia Fernandez.
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Screengrab of the official YouTube video of The Rolling Stones’ 2020 track “Living in a Ghost Town”

The Rolling Stones have filed a ‘Motion to Dismiss’ the copyright infringement lawsuit by Spanish songwriter Sergio Garcia Fernandez. The legal filing outlines several reasons for dismissal, including Plaintiff’s choice of improper venue, failure to state a claim, and lack of personal jurisdiction over a Europe-based rights management company.

In March, Spanish songwriter Sergio Garcia Fernandez filed a copyright infringement lawsuit in a Louisiana federal court. Fernandez, professionally known as ‘Angelslang’ claimed that ‘recognizable and key protected elements’ from his songs “So Sorry” (2006) and “Seed of God” (2007) appear in The Rolling Stones’ track “Living in a Ghost Town” (2020). Fernandez demanded a jury trial against Defendants Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, UMG INC., BMG Rights Management LLC, and Promopub B.V.

Now, DMN has obtained a legal filing submitted late last week by the attorneys of Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. Dated June 30th, the document lists several reasons why Judge Eldon E. Fallon should dismiss the copyright infringement lawsuit in the Eastern District of Louisiana court.

Within the court filing, The Rolling Stones declare, “Plaintiff’s complaint is replete with deficiencies regarding jurisdiction, venue, and forum that warrant dismissal.”

“Fernandez’s lawsuit claims that in 2013, he allegedly shared a CD containing the non-US works written six or seven years earlier with an unnamed immediate family member of Mr. Jagger. The Defendants dispute the allegations of copyright infringement made by Plaintiff.”

The 26-page court document also notes that Fernandez is a Spanish citizen suing Defendants over alleged infringement of non-US works (compositions and recordings). “[Works which] weren’t authored in the US, or registered with the US copyright office.”

“The court should dismiss Plaintiff’s First Amended Complaint (FAC) because it fails to adequately plead a copyright infringement claim. Plaintiff has failed to allege an exemption to the copyright precondition for his non-US works. This warrants dismissal of the FAC in its entirety.”

Other reasons listed as grounds to dismiss include lack of jurisdiction. The filing explains, “The court cannot exercise personal jurisdiction over Defendant Promopub B.V.”

“Defendant Promopub is a Dutch private limited company with no contacts in the United States. Promopub holds copyrights claims in certain musical compositions authored by Jagger and Richards, collecting and distributing publishing revenue generated by the musical compositions.”

“[Promopub] does not conduct any business in the US. All the books and records relating to such publishing revenue and all of Promopub’s employees are located in the Netherlands.”

The motion to dismiss also questions the Plaintiff’s choice of venue, stating, “Venue in the district is improper as none of the Defendants reside, or may otherwise be found, in this district.”

Fernandez filed the copyright infringement lawsuit in Louisiana, and The Rolling Stones claim that “The only individual with any ties to Louisiana is Plaintiff’s counsel, who is based in New Orleans. The location of his office is not relevant to establishing a local interest or controversy.”

It further adds, “Contrary to the allegations in the FAC, Mr. Jagger and Mr. Richards are both UK citizens. Mr. Jagger is not domiciled in the US, and Mr. Richards is domiciled in Connecticut. The Rolling Stones have not performed in Louisiana since a performance in the Superdome on their worldwide tour in 2019. Previously, they performed in this district only three other times, in 1978, 1981, and 1984. They have not directed any of their activities purposefully or specifically towards this district.”

The rock band also added, “The Accused Work was written and recorded outside of this district, and neither of these Defendants directed any contacts concerning the Accused Work to this district.”

“The more appropriate forum for this case would be a court in Europe because Plaintiff, a Spanish citizen, and domiciliary, asserts infringement of his non-U.S. works against Defendants who all have a presence in Europe. In short, both the private and public interest factors weigh in favor of dismissal.”

“Although each of the above reasons warrant dismissal, should the court not dismiss the FAC, the court should transfer the venue to the Southern District of New York. It was improper for Plaintiff to bring this case in this district when he could have brought it in the Southern District of New York.”