Copyright

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

Redigi - World's First Used Digital Marketplace - Fails "First Sale" at Second Circuit

I first posted on Capitol Records v. Redigi in March 2012 (Redigi Case Poses A Novel Copyright Question on the Resale of Digital Audio Files – Is “Digital First Sale Legal? Link), and posted a number of follow-up articles on this interesting case. Absent an appeal to the Supreme Court this long-running copyright case has finally come to an end with the Second Circuit’s December 12, 2018 decision holding that Redigi infringed the exclusive copyright right of reproduction with respect to the “second-hand” digital music files it sold via the Redigi system.

To understand this case it’s important to appreciate how Redigi’s system works. I explained this in detail in the post linked above, and the Second Circuit opinion describes it quite thoroughly as well. In short, Redigi acts as a broker for music files purchased and downloaded from iTunes. Redigi uploads a seller’s  music file to its own server and offers it for sale, deleting it from the seller’s computer, although the seller can continue to stream the file until it is sold.… Read the full article

An Introduction to the Music Modernization Act

by Lee Gesmer on December 13, 2018

An Introduction to the Music Modernization Act

Every few decades Congress enacts a major amendment to the U.S. Copyright Act. We are at one of those inflection points now. On October 11, 2018 the Orrin G. Hatch–Bob Goodlatte Music Modernization Act (the “MMA”) was signed into law. (click here for full text of the law)

This is a massive, game-changing law for digital music distribution, and it may take years for it to be fully integrated with the complex U.S. music copyright system. But, if you’re at a holiday party this season and someone insists on discussing the MMA with you, this blog post will give you a few talking points.

From a 40,000 foot level the MMA does three things.

First, and most importantly, it completely revamps the U.S. mechanical licensing system for interactive digital streaming services and digital downloads by shifting the burden of identifying composers from the services to the composers themselves. This is a huge benefit to the digital music services, who in the pre-MMA era were responsible for locating composers entitled to royalties but often failed to do so, creating an enormous potential liability for copyright infringement.… Read the full article

Led Zeppelin, Spirit and a Bustle at the Ninth Circuit

Update to this post: Copyright Office Backs Led Zeppelin In Ninth Circuit En Banc Appeal (link)

The U.S. copyright community will look back on 2018 as an important year for music copyright law. Appellate decisions in music copyright cases are rare. However, this year we’ve seen two important opinions from the Ninth Circuit. In March the Ninth Circuit upheld a jury verdict that found that Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke’s 2012 recording of “Blurred Lines” infringes Marvin Gaye’s 1976 composition of “Got To Give It Up” (see my blog post, “Blurred Lines at the Ninth Circuit,” here).

Now, in October, the Ninth Circuit has issued an opinion in Randy Wolfe’s copyright case against Led Zeppelin. The jury in that case found that Led Zeppelin’s 1971 recording of Stairway to Heaven did not infringe Wolfe’s composition copyright in the 1968 song Taurus (recorded by Spirit). … Read the full article