Yellow Card Sues Juice Wrld for Copyright Infringement; Pandora Likely to Escape Class Action Copyright Infringement Lawsuit; Chuck D Sues Music Publisher in Federal Court; The Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment Welcome Two New Members; US Congress Approves New Copyright Measures; Ad Agency Files Infringement Suit Against Vivo and more.
Yellow Card Sues Juice Wrld for Copyright Infringement
The band, Yellowcard has filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against rapper, Juice Wrld claiming that the rapper’s song ‘Lucid Dreams’ infringes upon their song ‘Holly Wood Died’. Members of the band, are alleging that the rapper used the melody and other elements from their 2006 song Holly Wood Died in his hit song Lucid Dreams, and are suing for $15 million. Additionally, the Yellowcard is also demanding a cut of future royalties, or ongoing statutory damages.
Along with the rapper Juice Wrld (Jared Higgins), the suit also names Interscope Records (UMG) and Taz Taylor as defendants in the lawsuit. As per the claims in the lawsuit, the rapper has also used parts of Sting’s ‘Shape of My Heart’ in his song Lucid Dreams. Although the rapper procured necessary licenses to use Sting’s song, he did not do the same for Yellowcard’s song and instead wilfully infringed the song.
The song ‘Lucid Dreams’ became a huge hit and reached no. 1 on both the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs and Billboard Rhythmic Song charts and no. 2 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, where it charted for nearly a year. The song also has nearly a billion streams on Spotify alone and the video for the song has been viewed nearly 400 million times on YouTube.
While Yellowcard had no intention of filing the lawsuit, they eventually went ahead and filed it, due to the fact that their initial notice to the rapper and other defendants was completely ignored and they were left with no other choice.
Pandora Likely to Escape Class Action Copyright Infringement Lawsuit
Pandora, the music streaming service, might be relieved of certain claims made in a class action suit in the year 2013. As per the initial suit, the “Turtles’ Flo & Eddie tried to get payment from both Pandora and SiriusXM for the digital and satellite performances of songs such as “Happy Together. However, because federal U.S. Copyright Law at that time did not cover music recorded prior to 1972, the two had to sue the companies in state courts.” The fact that SiriusXM, had acquired Pandora in 2018, proved to be a further complication in the matter.
“In 2014, a California court agreed that the recordings were protected by state law. In response, Pandora appealed to the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, which rejected the company’s bid to dismiss the case.” However, during this time, other state courts, in Florida and New York, ruled in favor of Pandora, which led the Ninth Circuit, which eventually received the case, to request clarification of California law from the state’s Supreme Court. While the Courts dealt with the clarification of the law, the US Congress in the meantime had passed the Music Modernization Act (MMA), according to which songs that were recorded before 1972, received federal protection. This Act also protected companies like Pandora against previous usage of songs as well as state-based claims as long as they pay royalties going back to 3 years before the law was passed.
Soon after Pandora made the required payment, the Ninth Circuit stated that since the passage of the MMA is considered as new evidence in this suit, it has requested California district court to reconsider its decision in light of such new evidence. Since this matter involves implementing a new legal principle, the Ninth Circuit has decided to follow standard practice, and remand the suit to the District Court for a decision.
Chuck D Sues Music Publisher in Federal Court
Rapper Chuck D (Carlton Ridenhour), has filed a copyright infringement lawsuit in Federal Court, against a music publisher for falsely claiming copyright ownership for twenty-eight songs belonging to the rapper. These songs include Common’s “Black America Again” and Prophets of Rage’s eponymous single, “Counteroffensive” and “Fired a Shot.” In the lawsuit the rapper has asked the federal judge to declare him as the rightful owner of the songs and is also suing for fraud and conversion. Chuck D has claimed that Michael Closter and his Reach Global music publishing company used false registration and false schemes to gain ownership of the interests in the musical compositions that are written and co-written by the rapper.
In the year 2001, Closter and Ridenhour formed a music company which was called Terrordome Music Publishing. As per this agreement Closter’s company Reach was entitled to 10% of gross profit from Terrordome publishing and licensing deals. However, in February 2019, Ridenhour noticed “that Terrordome actually acquired ownership of his copyrights instead of just functioning as the publishing and licensing administrator.”
Presently, Closter has filed a motion to dismiss the claim stating that the suit was not filed in New York where both Terrordome and Ridenhour’s Bring the Noize Music (BTNM) company are incorporated. A final decision is still pending in this matter.
The Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment Welcome Two New Members
The Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE), which is a global coalition dedicated to protecting the legal market for content, and reducing online piracy, has recently included Viacom and Comcast as its new members. Both Viacom and Comcast are media companies that have a huge stake in the market, in terms of the content that is created and are therefore invested in protecting such content by curbing piracy to the maximum possible extent. While Viacom’s subsidiary Paramount Pictures and Comcast’s subsidiary NBCUniversal are already members of ACE, the respective parent companies have also joined the group now, with Comcast being the first internet service provider to do so.
Presently ACE has “initiated legal action against several pirate device sellers and illegal media operations, including Vader Streams, SetTVNow, Tickbox and Dragon Box.” Additionally, ACE has filed a copyright infringement suit against SetTV, in a California Federal Court, requesting maximum damages on 51 different titles worth more than USD 7.6 million, as well as a permanent injunction against Set Broadcast.
The additional legal and operational help received from Viacom and Comcast, will further help ACE to improve its legal and operational efforts to mitigate online piracy.
US Congress Approves New Copyright Measures
The measures to curb copyright infringement that were introduced last year in the House of Representatives, under the Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement (CASE) Act, has recently received a majority approval from the House of Representatives. This measure aims to provide “graphic artists, photographers, and other content creators with a more efficient pathway toward receiving damages if their works are infringed. Under current law, all copyright suits must go through the federal courts, a system that is often costly and time-consuming for creators who decide to litigate their cases.”
If the CASE Act successfully becomes a law, Congress hopes to make the legal process easier for the artists and creators to claim the appropriate damages and other remedies for their infringed works. Under the CASE Act, the “Copyright Office would house a tribunal of “Copyright Claims Officers” who would work with both parties involved in a lawsuit to resolve infringement claims. As outlined in the bill, damages would be capped at $15,000 for each infringed work and top out at $30,000 total.”
Along with the advantages that the internet offers us, there are also certain disadvantages, in the form of potential infringers. Due to this it has become easy for infringers to copy and paste creative works from artists, especially those whose businesses exist primarily online. While the CASE Act is directed at rectifying and improving this situation, the measures under the Act have also been criticised by internet advocacy and civil rights groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), for possibly infringing upon the internet user’s First Amendment Rights. The main cause for this criticism is the inefficiency of the take down request system under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which has been allegedly abused often, by compelling legal posts that are protected under ‘fair use’ provisions, also, to be taken down, in order to avoid legal action.
This bill has already been voted out by the Senate Judiciary Committee and currently awaits a vote on the Senate floor.
Ad Agency Files Infringement Suit Against Vivo
Ogilvy, the advertisement agency has filed a lawsuit against Vivo, the smartphone manufacturer over claims of plagiarism and copyright infringement for an advertisement by Vivo. The Ad agency stated that, Vivo’s advertisement, for its device, V17Pro, which shows Amir Khan along with a child in an amusement park, has been copied from a similar idea that Ogilvy had pitched Vivo a while back. At that time, Vivo had not engaged Ogilvy’s services and therefore a spokesperson of the ad agency stated that they were shocked when they saw the advertisement on television.
This matter has been filed in the Bombay High Court and the Court has ordered Vivo to deposit Rs 1 crore or furnish a bank guarantee. Even after this order, Vivo has not taken the advertisement off air and has stated that they have not indulged in any kind of plagiarism or infringement and continue to build on strong ethical and contractual foundations. Further, a spokesperson for Vivo has stated that since the matter is sub judice, they will wait for the Court’s final decision.
Authored and compiled by Neharika Vhatkar and Ashwini Arun (Associates, BananaIP Counsels)
The Entertainment Law News Bulletin is brought to you jointly by the Entertainment Law and Consulting/Strategy Divisions of BananaIP Counsels, a Top IP Firm in India. If you have any questions, or need any clarifications, please write to [email protected] with the subject: Ent Law News.
Disclaimer: Please note that the news bulletin has been put together from different sources, primary and secondary, and BananaIP’s reporters may not have verified all the news published in the bulletin. You may write to [email protected] for corrections and take down.