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First off today, Dan Levine at Reuters reports that the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that a shorter-than-one-quarter-a-second sample used by Madonna in her song Vogue is not a copyright infringement of the original work because it is a de minimis, meaning that it is too trivial for the court to concern itself with.
The lawsuit was filed by VMG Salsoul LLC, current rightsholders of the 1976 song Love Break, which was performed by Salsoul Orchestra. They had argued that the horn sample, which was 0.23 seconds long, was a copyright infringement and sued both Madonna and Vogue‘s producer, Shep Pettibone, for copyright infringement.
The ruling affirms a 2013 district court ruling that held the same thing but is in direct opposition to a Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that held in a similar case that there is no de minimis in a case of sampling. This case will likely be appealed to the Supreme Court on the grounds of that circuit split.
Next up today, Chris Cooke at Complete Music Update reports that CBS Radio has won an unusual court verdict that has ruled remastered songs qualify for a new copyright and that older tracks remastered after 1972 are covered under federal rules.
The issue revolves around pre-1972 sound recordings, which are currently protected under state common law rather than federal copyright law. In The U.S., terrestrial radio stations do not need to pay royalties to musicians of post-1972 recordings but do need to pay royalties for the compositions. However, recent rulings have held that there is a need to pay a performance royalty for pre-1972 songs when played on satellite radio (which does have to pay performance royalties for recordings) and ABS Entertainment, the rightsholder of many pre-1972 sound recordings, sued CBS Radio to have those rulings apply to terrestrial radio too.
The argument was that, since pre-1972 sound recordings were not covered under federal rules, the distinction between terrestrial and satellite radio did not apply. However, CBS argued that it doesn’t play pre-1972 sound recordings, only more recent remastered versions of them. CBS argued that created a new copyright that was covered under the federal rules and the court agreed. The ruling could have a major impact on the term of copyright for sound recordings, many of which may be extended by this ruling.
Finally today, Victoria Bekiempis at The New York Daily News reports that Donald Trump’s presidential campaign has reached a settlement in the lawsuit over its use of a popular photo of a bald eagle on it merchandise.
The lawsuit was filed by two photographers, Wendy Shattil and Robert Rozinski, who accused the trump campaign of taking their photo of a bald eagle and using it on merchandise, including yard signs, without permission. The two had sued for copyright infringement and sought both an injunction and damages.
However, the plaintiffs have now filed papers with the court to say that the two sides have reached a resolution and resolved all of the claims. As such, the photographers are seeking to dismiss the lawsuit with prejudice, meaning it can not be filed again. Other than that, the terms of the settlement have not been disclosed.
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.