Alliance of Artists and Recording Companies, Inc. v. Denso International America, Inc. et al.


Baker Botts represented Clarion Corporation of America. Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP represented Denso International America, Inc. Hogan Lovells US LLP represented Ford Motor Company. Fenwick & West LLP represented General Motors LLC. Constantine Cannon LLP represented Mitsubishi Electric Automotive America, Inc. Venable LLP advised FCA US LLC. Axinn, Veltrop & Harkrider LLP represented Alliance of Artists and Recording Companies, Inc.

On January 28, 2020, the three-judge panel unanimously affirmed the District Court’s summary judgment ruling that automakers and manufacturers of certain onboard vehicle systems, comprised of hard drives, computer programs and databases, were not liable for damages or royalty payments under the Audio Home Recording Act of 1992, 17 U.S.C. §1001, et. seq.

In 2014, AARC filed lawsuits in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, alleging that certain vehicle systems of the defendants fell within the scope of the AHRA and seeking an injunction prohibiting the importation, manufacture, or distribution of the systems, as well as statutory damages and royalty payments. Baker Botts represented Clarion before the District Court, including a highly technical discovery process and arguments over the construction of the AHRA’s nested statutory definitions—a matter of first impression in the D.C. Circuit.

The District Court and D.C. Circuit both agreed that the Defendant-Appellee’s systems at issue are not covered by the AHRA because they are typical computer hard drives and are not capable of making “digital musical recordings” under the AHRA’s plain text. As a result, the systems “are not ‘digital audio recording device[s]’ subject to the AHRA.”

The Baker Botts team was led by Scott Keller (Picture) and included Ben Geslison, Tyler Beas, Adam Dec and Julie Albert. The Orrick team included Steven J. Routh, Annette Hurst, Melanie L. Bostwick. The Hogan team included Kirti Datla, Jessica Lynn Ellsworth and Desmond Hogan. The Constantine Cannon team included Robert Schwartz, Seth Greenstein, and David Golden.

Involved fees earner: Julie Albert – Baker Botts; Tyler Beas – Baker Botts; Adam Dec – Baker Botts; Ben Geslison – Baker Botts; Scott Keller – Baker Botts; Paul Reilly – Baker Botts; David Golden – Constantine Cannon; Seth Greenstein – Constantine Cannon; Robert Schwartz – Constantine Cannon;

Law Firms: Baker Botts; Constantine Cannon;

Clients: Clarion Corporation of America; Mitsubishi Electric Automotive America;

Author: Ambrogio Visconti