Tag Archives: Copyright

You Might Want to Turn Down for That: Lil Jon and DJ Snake Sued for Copyright Infringement

On May 4, 2017, Golden Crown Publishing, LLC, the publishing company behind Freddie GZ’s song Turn Down for What, sued Lil Jon and DJ Snake in the Southern District of New York, alleging that their hit song by the same name infringes on Golden Crown’s copyright. The plaintiff is seeking monetary damages and a permanent … Continue Reading

Does Copyright Now Cover Functionality?

On March 22, 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court decided the case of Star Athletica, L.L.C. v. Varsity Brands, Inc. regarding the scope of copyright protection for “pictorial, graphic or sculptural features” that have been added to useful articles—in this case, cheerleading uniforms.   The case has mostly gained attention because its facts crystalize the tension between … Continue Reading

Is This the Beginning of the End of Flo & Eddie’s Quest to Establish a Public Performance Right under State Copyright Law?

Former recording artists Flo & Eddie’s three-and-a-half-year battle against Sirius XM Radio, Inc., for recognition of a public performance right under New York law for pre-1972 sound recordings has come to an end. On Feb. 16, 2017, the Second Circuit Court of Appeal issued an order directing the district court to grant Sirius XM Radio’s … Continue Reading

Is There Copyright Infringement in Whoville?

The name “Cindy-Lou Who” likely invokes thoughts of the holiday season and Dr. Seuss’s beloved How the Grinch Stole Christmas (“Grinch”), which reminds us that the holidays are not all about toys and trinkets. But what happened after the Grinch “carved the roast beast”? Matthew Lombardo’s play Who’s Holiday! (the “Play”) tells us that story … Continue Reading

Sir Paul Will Not Let It Be: McCartney Makes Preemptive Strike Against Music Publishers to Reclaim His Copyrights

On Dec. 20, 2016, we wrote about a decision out of England’s High Court of Justice finding that members of music group Duran Duran breached their agreements with a music publisher by filing notices to terminate assignments of copyrights in 37 of their songs under section 203 of the Copyright Act.  That decision shocked much … Continue Reading

Flo & Eddie, Inc. v. Sirius XM Radio, Inc.: The New York Court of Appeals Conducts an Inquiry Into the Past and the Future of State Copyright Law

Sirius XM Radio received an early present for the holidays: On Dec. 20, the New York Court of Appeals issued an opinion addressing a question certified by the U.S. 2d Circuit Court of Appeals regarding whether “there is a right of public performance for creators of sound recordings under New York law and, if so, … Continue Reading

Something’s phishy here … Addressing internet scams through intellectual property strategy

This time of year, people often seek extra work opportunities to make some spare cash. Job applicants flock to websites to find employment. This also attracts scam artists who impersonate legitimate companies to hook victims. While a variety of phishing schemes use imitation to provide a look of legitimacy to the scam, one of the … Continue Reading

DOJ Appeals Decision Affecting Music Licensing

Lost in the news of the election, on Nov. 11, the Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a notice of appeal from an adverse decision issued by Judge Louis Stanton, who rejected a DOJ interpretation that licensees applauded and ASCAP, BMI, songwriters and publishers opposed. ASCAP and BMI collect and distribute payments to their members – … Continue Reading

Is hyperlinking copyright infringement? EU vs. US

Over in Europe, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has been hyperactive in the area of hyperlinking and copyright, at least as compared with the United States. The CJEU issued a much-anticipated ruling in September concerning hyperlinking’s legality in GS Media v Sanoma Media Netherlands and Others (C-160/15). It held that posting … Continue Reading

Not Dat Function, Dis Function

  When we talk these days about the role of functionality in determining the copyrightability of a useful article, we are generally talking about the 10 different separability tests currently duking it out at the Supreme Court in the Varsity Brands case. Our posts on that case are here, here and here. These tests enforce … Continue Reading

A Circuit Split at Last: Ninth Circuit Recognizes De Minimis Exception to Copyright Infringement of Sound Recordings

For the past 10 years, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has stood alone in having addressed the issue of whether a de minimis amount of copying used in a song sample constitutes infringement of a copyrighted sound recording. While the Sixth Circuit’s admonition of “get a license or do not sample” has gained little … Continue Reading

Supreme Court Clarifies Test for Fee-Shifting in Copyright Cases

The Supreme Court on June 16 issued a unanimous ruling clarifying the test for awarding attorneys’ fees to successful copyright litigants.  The decision, in Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., is sure to have lasting impact on how both plaintiffs and defendants weigh the risk of litigating a copyright case to completion. BACKGROUND The … Continue Reading

How Will the Supreme Court Function With the Varsity Brands Test?

On Monday, the Supreme Court announced it had agreed to review the Sixth Circuit’s copyright decision in Star Athletica v. Varsity Brands, which involves the issue of whether certain designs appearing on cheerleading uniforms are copyrightable or are instead non-copyrightable functional elements that are an inherent part of cheerleading uniform designs. In a split decision, … Continue Reading

Central District of California Holds That the California Resale Royalty Act Is Preempted by Federal Copyright Law

As previously discussed on this blog, the validity of the California Resale Royalty Act (the “RRA,” Civil Code Section 986), a 1976 law that requires resellers of fine art to pay a royalty of 5 percent to the artists behind the works, was challenged in a dispute between a group of artists and Christie’s Inc., … Continue Reading

“And if You Listen Very Hard” . . . Zeppelin Going to [Trial in] California

Central District of California Judge Gary Klausner ruled the founders of rock band Led Zeppelin – and more particularly, front men Jimmy Page and Robert Plant – must face a jury trial to determine whether the band’s most famous song, “Stairway to Heaven,” infringed a copyright belonging to the band Spirit. In 2014, the trustee … Continue Reading

Paul McCartney Refuses to Let It Be and Launches Effort to Reclaim Copyrights to Songs

Legendary songwriter Paul McCartney has begun the process of acquiring the rights to songs he co-wrote with John Lennon while both were members of the Beatles. Although McCartney and Lennon authored most of the band’s hits, they signed over their copyrights at the start of their career on the advice of manager Brian Epstein. By … Continue Reading

The Beastie Boys Fight for Their Rights and Win

On Wednesday Judge Alison J. Nathan of the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of New York ordered record label TufAmerica, Inc. to pay the Beastie Boys (Michael Diamond, Adam Horovitz, and Adam Yauch), Universal-Polygram International Publishing, Inc. and Capital Records LLC, $845,597.23 in attorneys’ fees and costs. TufAmerica brought suit in 2012 against … Continue Reading

Singers Chris Brown and The Weeknd Resolve Copyright Disputes

Last year, songwriter Nayeri Gregor filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Chris Brown, Benny Benassi, and others, claiming Brown’s 2012 song Don’t Wake Me Up infringed her 2009 song of the same title. According to Gregor, in 2011 she played her song for Irish singer-songwriter Brian Kennedy. Gregor further claimed that Kennedy memorized the music … Continue Reading

Can Software Be Created As a Work-for-Hire?

In early February a decision out of the Southern District of New York added another layer of dicta supporting the notion that software created by an independent contractor can qualify as a work-for-hire. In Stanacard, LLC v. Rubard, LLC, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 15721 (S.D.N.Y. February 3, 2016), the court found in dicta that work … Continue Reading
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