Music should soothe the savage beast. However, it can make people riled up – especially concerning copyright cases. It is not uncommon that people have been accused continually of ripping off others’ works. Since 2017, Taylor Swift has been in a legal battle. Sean Hall and Nathan Butler sued her for Shake It Off due to similarities to their song, “Playas Gon’ Play.” The song had been written for a girl group, 3LW.
Of course, it is not the first time that this has happened.
Here are five other famous copyright cases:
Whitmill Vs. Warner Brothers
It would be best to have an excellent trademark registration attorney when gearing up for a copyright/IP-related court battle.
Hangover 2 was released, and a much-anticipated sequel to the film The Hangover. However, only some were happy. Tattoo artist S. Victor Whitmill’s tattoo design had been used and uncredited without permission in the film and its promotional materials.
Warner Brothers responded that it was used in the spirit of the “fair use” policy, which protected their usage of the design. Despite Warner Brothers’ defense, Whitmill pursued the case. He then sought a preliminary injunction. As a result, the injunction potentially prevented the film from coming out in theaters in time for its schedule.
Eventually, the judge released a ruling. His ruling was against the injunction that Whitmill had presented. However, he concurred that Whitmill had had a solid case; this meant that he could still pursue the lawsuit on other bases. Behind closed doors, the lawyers settled the case, and the film was released on schedule.
Katy Perry Vs. Marcus Gray
Dark Horse, released in 2013, was one of the year’s biggest bops, with over 13 million copies sold worldwide. It was performed live during the Super Bowl event and garnered the MTV award for Best Female Music Video the following year. The same year, a rapper named Marcus Gray sued Perry.
He claimed she had stolen the beat and riff from his song. His song was “Joyful Noise.” In response, Katy Perry’s legal representative replied that the claim was preposterous and that he was gatekeeping music, which could harm all musicians.
The case damages could be estimated at $2.78 million and were awarded to him by the court in 2019. In 2020, an appeal was submitted and resulted in an overturn. The reason for the capsize was that there was “insufficient evidence.”
Napster was developed in 1999 and is a peer-to-peer file-sharing application. Lars Ulrich, the drummer of Metallica, filed a lawsuit against its developer and cited copyright infringement, unauthorized use of a digital audio interface device, and racketeering. As a result, it created a domino effect, and others began suing Napster.
Eventually, Napster was found guilty in 2002 and forced to close and release a public apology. As a result, some people began to feel hatred toward Metallica.
Bee Gees Vs. Selle
Bee Gees released the hit “How Deep Is Your Love,” a Hot 100 chart-topper. It would later become a prominent song featured in the movie “Saturday Night Fever.”
Ronald Selle, on the other hand, had written a song, “Let It End.” After getting his song copyright, Selle sent the song’s recording to several publishing companies. After hearing “How Deep Is Your Love” on the radio, Selle noticed the similarities between the music and his. He sued the Bee Gees for copyright infringement.
A few years before the song’s release, Ronald Selle had written “Let it End” as part of a band performing in and around Chicago. Shortly after receiving the copyright for the song, Selle invited his fellow bandmates to a studio where the song was recorded, with Selle singing the words. He then sent the recording to numerous publishing companies without immediate response. Additionally, he accused their record label distributor Polygram and Paramount Pictures of misappropriation and copyright infringement.
In the 1983 case, the band alleged they had never heard the song, so the case delved into the similarity of the songs. Selle bought a music expert who convinced the jury that the song was plagiarized. The judge ignored the jury verdict, and there was a motion for a new trial.
The case, however, exposed the holes in the juries’ decision-making on music. Striking similarities between songs was insufficient to prove the case of music plagiarism. Copyright infringement cases now needed the defendant to hear the song being plagiarized before,
In the music and streaming era, copyright infringement claims are pretty standard. However, it should be noted that the similarities between melody and lyrics are not just enough to prove a case of plagiarism. If it were made such a basis, it could prevent the flourishing of the music industry.