3 Count: Neu Starships

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1: A Copyright Victory, 35 Years Later

First off today, Larry Rohter at The New York Times reports that Victor Willis, best known for his work with The Village People, has announced that he has successfully reclaimed control of some 33 of the songs he wrote including “YMCA”, “Macho Man” and more.

Willis has been in litigation for over six years trying to secure copyright termination of his songs. Such termination would allow him to end contracts and agreements with his former record labels some 35 years after the works were created. However, the companies that currently control his work had previously claimed that the works were made for hire, meaning that Willis was an employee when he wrote the songs, and that the works were not eligible for termination. However, the labels dropped that claim fearing that, if defeated, it could set a bad precedent for other artists.

Despite Willis’ claims, the case may not be completely over, the companies that currently control the music have said that they still intend to appeal and that the matter is far from settled. However, Willis seems much more certain, saying that the termination will, almost certainly, take place.

2: Tattoo Artist Looks to Show Value of Copyright Claim Against Videogame Publisher

Next up today, Eriq Gardner at The Hollywood Reporter Esquire reports that tattoo artist Christopher Escobedo is asking bankruptcy court appellate panel to reevaluate a judges ruling valuing an alleged infringement of his design at just $22,500.

Escobedo designed and drew a lion tattoo on the rib cage of UFC fighter Carlos Condit. That tattoo was then featured prominently in UFC Undisputed games created by THQ. This prompted Escobedo to sue THQ but, when THQ went into bankruptcy, the matter became one for the bankruptcy court. Escobedo originally asked that the value of the infringement be set at $4.1 million but the judge, after a petition from other debtors, reduced that amount to $22,500.

Esobedo then appealed to the same judge for reconsideration but was denied, prompting him to take his claim to the appellate court. The issue has raised questions about the copyrightability of tattoos and the role that copyrightability plays in video games, movies and elsewhere.

3: Reclusive musician sues pop star Nicki Minaj

Finally today, Jason Meisner at the Chicago Tribune reports that musician Nicki Minaj is being sued by fellow artist Clive Tanaka alleging that Minaj’s hit song “Starships” is an infringement of his previous work, “Neu Chicago”.

Tanaka is a well-known electronic musician but is best known for his reclusiveness, having never performed live in his career and not having his real name known. In fact, the lawsuit itself was filed under his company, further protecting his identity.

In addition to Minaj, the lawsuit also names other listed authors on the song and the song’s producer RedOne. Tanaka also posted a clip on his Soundcloud that compares the two songs, playing one out of each channel.


That’s it for the three count today. We will be back tomorrow with three more copyright links. If you have a link that you want to suggest a link for the column or have any proposals to make it better. Feel free to leave a comment or send me an email. I hope to hear from you.

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