3 Count: Small Claims

When David beats Goliath...

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1: Montreal artist wins legal battle against label of hip hop giant Kendrick Lamar

First off today, Kamila Hinkson at CBC News reports that a Montreal rapper named Jonathan Emile won a battle with against representatives of Kendrick Lamar over Emile’s song Heaven Help Dem.

According to the lawsuit, Emile asked Lamar to help with the song in 2011. Lamar, at that time, was about to sign a major deal with the label Aftermath. In 2012, Lamar delivered his verse to the song and Emile paid him for it. However, after the verse was delivered, Lamar was signed and Emile found it hard to finalize the deal. Nonetheless, Emile released the track in 2015 but Lamar’s label ordered the song removed, claiming it was a copyright infringement and damaging efforts to promote the album.

Emile took to Quebec’s small claims court and has now secured some $8,000 ($5,858 USD) in damages. While the amount won is small, Emile says he feels vindicated over the result.

2: ‘Jersey Boys’ Copyright Dispute Now in Jury’s Hands

Next up today, Kent Lauer at News Service reports that the Jersey Boys case has reached the jury, which will resume deliberating today.

The lawsuit was filed by Donna Corbello, whose late husband, Rex Woodard, co-authored a book with Four Seasons member Tommy Devito in the 90s. According to the lawsuit, the Broadway musical Jersey Boys is based in large part on that work and they are seeking damages.

The jury must sort through the complicated case, first determining if the authors of the musical had an implied license from DeVito to use the work. Failing that, they have to determine if the book was used in crafting the musical and, if it was, was enough creative expression used to not be a fair use. The jury began deliberating on the 22nd but quickly broke for the holiday. They will resume deliberations today.

3: $1bn Getty Images Public Domain Photograph Dispute is Over

Finally today, Andy at Torrentfreak writes that the case pitting photographer Carol Highsmith against Getty Images has ended with most of the claims against Getty being dismissed followed by a settlement of the remaining claims.

Carol Highsmith is a photographer who, in 1988, donated many of her images to the public domain via the Library of Congress. However, in December 2015 she received a threat letter from Getty images saying that her using her own photo was a violation of their license. Highsmith hit back, filing a lawsuit on copyright and state business law claims.

However, the court dismissed all of Highsmith’s copyright claims, saying that her releasing the images to the public domain hindered that aspect of the case. That left the state common law claims and now Getty has reached a settlement with Highsmith over those. The terms of the settlement are not 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.

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