Miller Music Corporation v. Charles N. Daniels, Inc.

PETITIONER: Miller Music Corporation
RESPONDENT: Charles N. Daniels, Inc.
LOCATION: District Court for the District Court of Columbia

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1958-1962)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

CITATION: 362 US 373 (1960)
ARGUED: Feb 24, 1960 / Feb 25, 1960
DECIDED: Apr 18, 1960

Facts of the case


Media for Miller Music Corporation v. Charles N. Daniels, Inc.

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - February 25, 1960 in Miller Music Corporation v. Charles N. Daniels, Inc.

Julian T. Abeles:

-- District Court held that if the author did not survive the 28th year, there was nothing that could be acquired by the executor.

He had nothing to leave.

And of course, out of the -- the Court of Appeals, that is the majority of the Court of Appeals affirmed upon the determine -- upon the decision of Judge Bryant.

Now, Judge Bryant and also the respondent, cite in support of this contention, two authorities.

That is two -- rather two, I would say, two textbook writers, two copyright textbook writers.

One, Ball another known as Ladas, and if I may respectfully do so, Ball says in accord with what they contend, “When can I grant personal property in which he has no existing title of vested right?”

Consequently, an expectancy and a drawing out of property cannot be the subject of an assignment at law of a valid mortgage sale, nor be devised by will.

And Ladas answered the same effect, the author cannot dispose the rights, he may never have.

Now, as I said yesterday, in -- in Fox Film against Knowles, the precise contention was raised and the Court of Appeals, in affirming said, “That while they recognize there could be no distinction between an assignment by the author or divide -- or devise that he can, having not survived the 28th year, he could do neither.”

In this Court, I will say it that, this Court in a -- in a reversing said, that as the -- as the executor represents a person of his testator in the absence of a widow and child, he can exercise the same power that the testator might exercise if he had been alive.

Felix Frankfurter:

May I ask --

Julian T. Abeles:


Felix Frankfurter:

May I ask you, I'm not familiar with Ball with that -- of what you read, was that a generalized statement by that author?

Julian T. Abeles:

Well, that --

Felix Frankfurter:

It has assigned property that you haven't got in -- in essence?

Julian T. Abeles:

That's a page, Your Honor, they referred to and that's the only thing I could find on that page that has any reference to it.

He does say that it can't do either one.

I don't know.

I just cite that.

I don't know, why you say, he can't assign or can't divide -- make of clash, but that's what they say, they cite that.

Felix Frankfurter:

I mean, does the author --

Julian T. Abeles:

They cite --

Felix Frankfurter:

-- derive this statement as a general proposition of -- of conveyable or assignable interest or that he derived that from the copyright legislation?

Julian T. Abeles:

I don't know where he got it from, if the Court please.

Felix Frankfurter:

Well, I -- I'm not --

Julian T. Abeles:

It just seemed to be an off-hand statement, I think on his own, I can't understand why you made it, if I may say so.

Felix Frankfurter:

But if it isn't -- it isn't so as the generality.

Demonstrably not --

Julian T. Abeles:

No sir.

Felix Frankfurter:

-- a generality.