Copyright

A Few Observations From the Ninth Circuit En Banc Argument in Skidmore v. Led Zeppelin

I have a few observations on the Ninth Circuit September 23, 2019 en banc hearing in Skidmore v. Led Zeppelin. Video of the oral argument is embedded at the bottom of this post, and the transcriptions below are mine – I’ve left out a few words here and there to make this easier to read, but I didn’t leave out anything material.

Did Skidmore’s Attorney Give Away the Case?

Quite possibly.

Here are the key excerpts from the oral argument. (I’m labeling all of the judges’ questions as simply “judge,” but the questions were posed by different judges):

Judge: Are you conceding today that if you are confined to the deposit copy your copyright claims are not viable?

Skidmore Counsel: I think that it is very difficult for plaintiff to win based on the deposit copy since it’s such an inaccurate transcription of the composition ….

Judge: Is that a “yes”?

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Copyright Office Backs Led Zeppelin In Ninth Circuit En Banc Appeal

Update (9/25/19): A Few Observations From the Ninth Circuit En Banc Argument in Skidmore v. Led Zeppelin (link)

The appeal in Skidmore v. Led Zeppelin is scheduled to be reargued before an en banc Ninth Circuit appeals court panel on September 23, 2019 (watch it live online here), and the U.S. Copyright Office has taken the unusual step of submitting an amicus brief in support of Led Zeppelin.

This important copyright case is discussed in my October 2018 post, Led Zeppelin, Spirit and a Bustle at the Ninth Circuit, so I won’t review the background in detail here. The works at issue are Spirit’s 1968 song Taurus and the opening section of Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven. A Ninth Circuit panel reversed the jury’s verdict (verdict here) in favor of Led Zeppelin and sent the case back for retrial based on errors in the jury instructions.Read the full article

Copyright Infringement? Peloton Punches Back With Antitrust

[This post was updated in September 2019:  “Contract, Combination or Conspiracy” – Can Peloton’s Lawsuit Survive the Music Publishers’ Motion to Dismiss?]

Can a trade association negotiate sales or licenses on behalf of its members? Can it tell members, “don’t negotiate individually with a specific purchaser, and if you are already in negotiations with that purchaser cut them off and let us negotiate on behalf of you and other members”? At what point does this conduct become an antitrust violation? 

These are the issues raised in a lawsuit between Peloton Interactive, Inc. on the one hand, and a group of music publishers and the National Music Publishers Association, Inc. (NMPA) on the other.

Peloton and Music Licensing. Peloton sells high-end, in-home stationary bicycles. An important feature of Peloton’s service is music-backed, instructor-led workout classes streamed to users via a built-in video screen. Some of these classes are broadcast live, and many are recorded and accessed on-demand.Read the full article

Ed Sheeran Should Settle “Lets Get It On”

by Lee Gesmer on April 24, 2019

Ed Sheeran Should Settle "Lets Get It On"

It looks like the music copyright world is facing another high-profile infringement trial. This time the songs at issue are Marvin Gaye’s 1973 “Get Lets it On” and Ed Sheeran’s 2014 “Thinking Out Loud.” On January 2, 2019, a federal judge denied Sheeran’s motion for summary judgment in this case. Absent a settlement, the case will proceed to trial in federal court in New York.

This case raises some of the same questions that were at issue in the two cases decided recently by the Ninth Circuit – the Blurred Lines case (where the Ninth Circuit upheld a jury finding of infringement of another Marvin Gaye song), and the Led Zeppelin/Spirit Stairway to Heaven case, where the Ninth Circuit reversed a judgment for Led Zeppelin and remanded the case for a second trial. See Blurred Lines At The Ninth Circuit and Led Zeppelin, Spirit and a Bustle at the Ninth Circuit.Read the full article