Category Archives: Copyright

MGM “Knocks Out” Raging Bull Lawsuit with Settlement

Last year, we reported that the U.S. Supreme Court revived a longstanding copyright infringement lawsuit over the 1980 hit movie “Raging Bull.”  The suit was initially brought in 2009 when Paula Petrella, the daughter of Frank Petrella, alleged that MGM and 20th Century Fox (“MGM”) infringed on her father’s copyrights in a number of works written about the life of boxer Jake LaMotta. Paula first became aware of her right to sue in the early 90’s based on a Supreme Court case related to…

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Rise and Fall of an Empire (Distribution, Inc.)

In the pilot episode of Fox’s smash-hit series Empire, Cookie Lyon, explaining why, after her release from jail, she’s returning to her husband Lucious Lyon’s fictional record label, Empire Entertainment, says simply: “I’m here to get what’s mine.”  This is, of course, in reference to the formerly-jailed matriarch having taken the rap for Lucious to the tune of 17 years behind bars for drug-running while he built his music “empire.” Coincidentally, it also may sum up the thinking over the last couple of months…

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Court to Determine Who Owns “Happy Birthday to You”

A California federal judge is to decide whether Warner/Chappell owns the 120-year-old “Happy Birthday to You” as Warner/Chappell and Good Morning to You Productions (“GMTY”) came to an agreement to do so on March 23.  The copyright suit was brought against Warner/Chappell in 2013 by GMTY, alleging Warner/Chappell “extracted millions of dollars in unlawful licensing fees” for the song despite the controversy over the origins and ownership of the song. Arguing that the song has been in the public domain for 65 years, GMTY President…

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Jury Finds “Blurred Lines” a Copy, Awards Gaye Family $7.36 Million

On Tuesday, March 10, a California Jury  determined that Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams copied Marvin Gaye’s 1977 hit “Got to Give it Up” in writing their hit song “Blurred Lines,” awarding $7.36 million in damages to Gaye’s children. Back in August of 2013, Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams filed a preemptive lawsuit to declare that their hit song “Blurred Lines” did not infringe on the copyright of Marvin Gaye’s “Got to Give it Up.”  Ever since that point, the music world has…

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The Secret Is Out: How Much Artists Make on a Hit Like “Blurred Lines”

$16.6 million.  That is the profit that the hit song “Blurred Lines” has generated since its release.  While the profitability of a song is highly guarded secret in the industry, Robin Thicke was forced to reveal the number during the copyright infringement trial.  Of the total profit, he and Pharrell Williams each took over $5 million. The copyright infringement dispute arose when the family of deceased “Got to Give It Up” singer Marvin Gaye sued Thicke over allegedly ripping off Gaye’s song.  Arguing…

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Seth MacFarlane Sued over Talking Bottle Opener

The Ted and Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane along with Universal Pictures, Media Rights Capital and Target found himself in a legal trouble when Michael Cram who claims to be the inventor of a talking bottle opener filed a copyright infringement suit over a promotional talking bottle opener included in the special edition Blu-ray/DVD of Ted. In a suit filed on February 25, Cram claimed that he invented the no-button talking bottle opener as well as the talking beer mug and has sold them…

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Robin Thicke Takes Center Stage in Court to Show No Copyright Infringement

From the witness box in a federal courtroom in Los Angeles, Robin Thicke sang, played the piano, and even danced a bit to demonstrate to the jury that his song did not infringe on Marvin Gaye’s “Got To Give It Up.Thicke’s performance took place after U.S. District Judge John A. Kronstadt held in a pre-trial hearing that the jury would not hear the actual sound recording of Gaye’s 1977 hit.  Since Gaye’s performance in the original recording is not at issue, the…

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“The Blueprint” for an Infringement?

A recently-filed case in a California federal court has Jay-Z and his promoters at Live Nation wondering whether they’ll continue to reap the benefits of the 1999 hit single Big Pimpin’ or whether they’ll be “spending G’s” to clean up a potential infringement posed by a sample looped throughout one of S. Carter’s most famous tracks.  Last week, an Egyptian plaintiff named Osama Ahmed Fahmy sued Live Nation Entertainment, Inc., seeking unspecified actual damages and costs, alleging Live Nation’s continued “use” of Big Pimpin’ in…

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Freeplay Music Sues Disney’s Maker Studios and Other MCNs for Copyright Infringement

Freeplay Music, a music licensing company that owns rights to 50, 000 works by various composers, is suing separately four YouTube multi-channel networks (MCNs) Disney’s Maker Studios, DreamWorks Animation’s Awesomeness, Big Frame and BroadbandTV Corp., alleging the defendants misappropriated its licensed music in YouTube videos. More specifically, Freeplay claims Maker infringed over 45 copyrights, AwesomenessTV and Big Frame together infringed on 14 copyrights, and BroadbandTV infringed on more than 70 copyrights. It was only last week that Freeplay was in the news when two…

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