Brown, LLC handles select Copyright Infringement Litigation and Copyright Infringement Matters
We represent a prolific band of composers and writers who have had # 1 Billboard hits over the years. With the proliferation of the internet copyright infringement has become increasingly too common. Additionally, new artists continue to “borrow,” “sample” and steal original works without proper accreditation.
Due to the high demand of this copyright litigation law firm, we are very selective in the cases we choose to prosecute. We do not handle troll litigation and although we offer free copyright litigation consultation – some matters are handled by our commercial litigation lawyers may be handled on an hourly basis, hybrid basis, or contingency basis.
WHAT IS COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT?
In the musical context, copyright infringement first requires the underlying material that was infringed upon to have an actual copyright and the derivative work to use a portion of it or its entirety without payment and/or accreditation. A famous example of musical copyright infringement is the work My Sweet Lord by the late, great ex-Beatle George Harrison who according to a Federal Judge subconsciously lifted portions of the work from He’s so Fine.
The first step in copyright litigation is often to send a cease-and-desist letter informing the offender of the alleged violation. Our firm believes in order to obtain maximum value for a copyright lawsuit the path to the most lucrative recovery is through a jury. Under the law in addition to any recovery the copyrighter may receive, the statute also provides for the infringer to pay the copyright lawyer’s legal fees if you can show the registered copyright. Copyright litigation implicates federal laws and thus is filed in Federal Court.
In the past musical copyright infringement extended to the actual lifting of portions of the offending song. The case of Blurred Lines, blurred the lines in which an infringement lawsuit could succeed as a jury awarded the Marvin Gaye estate approximately $5 million for copying the feel of the copyrighted song, Got to give it up. This is illustrative that bringing the copyright litigation to a jury can maximize a recovery. However, even though it is the preference to obtain a verdict for maximum economic relief, at different stages of the copyright litigation there may be opportunities to settle for prospective and retrospective relief that potentially make agreeing to a certainty superior to the blurred forecast of what a copyright litigation jury may unpredictably hold.
PROVING COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT
The key components of establishing a copyright infringement are:
- Ownership of a recognized and valid copyright
- Unauthorized use of original parts of the copyrighted material
Exposure and access to the original copyrighted material is sometimes a challenge, but with the advent of forensic examination of electronically stored information and aggressive discovery, you can often prove exposure if indeed there was an infringement. That is, the composer of the unauthorized music may have at some point listened to the original copyrighted work through youtube, Spotify, or some other music channel and the history of its access may be available through examination of phones, computers, and subpoena to third party companies.
The trier of fact in a copyright infringement will have to make a determination whether there is a substantial similarity between the two songs. This portion of the copyright litigation may be more subjective than objective and rely heavily on the use of authoritative experts. Sometimes even though the musical theft could be relative note for note, cadence for cadence, defendants can argue it’s a different key, different feel, or other parts of the song are so dissimilar that there is no pirating of the original song. Ultimately, it may come down to what the jury believes.
FREE COPYRIGHT LITIGATION CONSULTATION
We would like to emphasize that we will only handle copyright litigation in matters in which there are substantial damages with a composer/author that generally has a prolific catalog or a very prominent song. To speak with the copyright litigation team at Brown, LLC please call (877) 561-0000 for a free consultation.