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First off today, Jonathan Steeple at Reuters reports that Justin Beiber and Usher have lost an appeal at the 4th Circuit and will have to face a lawsuit filed by Devin Copeland, who is known by the name De Rico, and his songwriting partner Mareio Overton.
Copeland and Overton sued Usher and Bieber alleging that the Usher/Bieber song “Somebody to Love” shared the same beat pattern, time signature and similar chords/lyrics to a song they recorded with the same name. However, when the lawsuit was brought to the district court, the judge tossed the case saying that there was no way that a reasonable jury could find the songs similar enough to be infringing.
The plaintiffs appealed that dismissal to the 4th Circuit and unanimously the three judge panel ruled that that the dismissal was improper. According to the judges, anyone who listens to the songs as a whole will find that there is enough reason for a jury to find substantial similarity. Usher and Bieber did not respond to the decision, but have maintained that their version was written in 2008 for Usher specifically, who brought it to Bieber.
Next up today, Murray Stassen at Music Week reports that a high court in the UK has ruled against the government and has deemed a private copying exemption that was passed into law last year was passed without adequate evidence and fails to provide adequate compensation to rightsholders.
Last year the UK government passed the Copyright and Rights in Performances (Personal Copies for Private Use) Regulations 2014, which made it legal to “format shift” music, such as ripping the contents of a CD onto an MP3 player so long as the use was personal. However, the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors (BASCA), the Musicians’ Union (MU) and UK Music sued alleging that the law should have provided compensation for losses to rightsholders and was passed without adequate evidence.
The high court agreed and the ruling forces the government to either present additional evidence, add in a compensation scheme or remove the personal copying exemption. It is unclear what the UK government will do.
Finally today, Eriq Gardner at The Hollywood Reporter Esquire reports that Amazon has hit back in the Gronking to Remember lawsuit and, with its filing, added some new unexpected details to the case.
The lawsuit stems from the cover of the erotic fiction book Gronking to Remember, which featured a woman lusting after New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski. The book featured a photo of a couple on the cover, which was featured prominently on various late-night talk shows. That couple is now suing the book’s author, Lacey Noonan, and Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Apple, which distributed the book, for violations of their publicity rights under Ohio law.
Amazon has responded and claims that they had almost nothing to do with the book, which was self-published by the author. However, the filings reveal that the author is actually Greg McKenna, who is a male despite being repeatedly identified as a woman. They also reveal that the New England Patriots did object to the book but dropped those complaints when a new version of the book was uploaded without Gronkowski’s photo on the cover. Amazon says the book was removed because of the complaints from the couple and that, other than automated checks for plagiarism and offensive content, they do no editing or validating of the book.
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.