Members of the 1960s musical group the Turtles won another victory on May 27 in their landmark copyright infringement case against the satellite radio company Sirius XM. The case centers around royalties on songs recorded prior to Feb. 15, 1972. California law offers protection to the work of performance artists that was recorded before this date, while federal law does not. The plaintiff, a company controlled by two of the band's founders, is pursuing similar litigation in New York and Florida seeking approximately $100 million in damages.
In a case involving the alleged copyright infringement of a 1977 Marvin Gaye song called "Got to Give It Up," eight California jurors reached a decision on March 10 to award the Gaye family $7.4 million in damages. Singers Robin Thicke and Pharell Williams will pay the amount to the family due to similarities in their song "Blurred Lines," a hit song from 2013. In the case, the defense side argued that artists need a wide berth during the creative process, and although the artists may have been inspired by Marvin Gaye, they did not copy key elements from the song. No statutory damages were awarded in the case.
California residents might be interested to learn about the intellectual property lawsuit that was filed against Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams. On Feb. 25, the two musicians appeared in federal court to face allegations that they copied Marvin Gaye's 1977 hit song 'Got to Give It Up" when they composed their hit song 'Blurred Lines."
California's music professionals often face frustrations over issues related to copyright protections in their industry. The digital age has made it even more challenging to protect one's work from issues such as unauthorized copying and distribution. A recent study of copyright concerns and the marketplace for music was conducted by the U.S. Copyright Office as the current system was reviewed carefully.
Copyright protections are available to protect people who are the authors of original works, including musical, artistic, dramatic, literary and certain other types of work. People who own a copyright to the work then have certain rights with regards to the work, including the right to reproduce it, author new works derived off the original work, distribute it, display it or perform it.
Many companies use popular music in their promotional videos and advertisements. Using a well-know artist's or band's music is a common technique to promote your own brand, but if you use a band's music in your ads without their permission, you could find yourself in legal trouble.
Musicians face a lot of scrutiny when it comes to their songs. When one musician believes another artist or band stole their song, they can file a copyright infringement lawsuit. A recent lawsuit filed against Led Zeppelin is an example of the legal action other bands can take if they think their song or melody was stolen by another artist.
Many of you are probably familiar with Pandora, the popular Internet radio site. Pandora allows users to listen to a variety of songs and even create lists of different types of music they want to listen to. You may not know that Pandora has to pay licensing fees to play many of these songs because of federal copyright laws. However, federal laws don't protect songs made before 1972.