3 Count: Overcoming Shall

One word is not copyrightable...

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1: ‘We Shall Overcome’ Verse Not Under Copyright, Judge Rules

First off today, Ben Sisario at The New York Times reports that a judge has granted partial summary judgment in the case over We Shall Overcome and has ruled that the composition to the song is public domain.

The case was originally filed by filmmakers that wanted to use the song as part of the 2013 film The Butler. However, the publisher sought to charge a license for the use of the composition prompting them to sue seeking a judgment that the song was in the public domain. The song has origins going as far back as the early 20th century but publisher Ludlow Music registered a version by Pete Seeger saying that he had modified it from the original.

However, the court has ruled that the most notable alteration, changing “will” to “shall” in two verses, is not enough to qualify for copyright protection by itself. As such, the judge issued partial summary judgment in favor of the plaintiff on that issue. However, the judge declined to issue summary judgment on whether the copyright of the entire song should be declared invalid. That issue moves forward toward a trial

2: ShareBeast Owner Pleads Guilty to Copyright Infringement

Next up today, Gene Maddaus at Variety reports that Artur Sargsyan, the of the music-sharing website ShareBeast has pleaded guilty to copyright infringement.

The site was shut down in August 2015 following an FBI seizure of the domain names associated with it. At the time of its closure, the RIAA said that the site was the largest distributor of pirated music operating in the U.S. It had also become well-known for providing access to music not yet released.

A criminal case was filed against Sargsyan last month and now the California man has pleaded guilty. He faces a maximum of five years in prison and has already surrendered $185,000 to the government.

3: Gigi Hadid, IMG Models Slapped with Copyright Infringement Lawsuit Over Instagram Post

Finally today, The Fashion Law reports that Gigi Hadid is facing a lawsuit by photographer Peter Cepeda over an image of herself she placed on her Instagram and Twitter accounts.

The lawsuit, which targets both Hadid and her modeling agency, IMG Models, claims that Hadid not only posted his photograph without his permission, but also removed the watermarks and other attribution, a violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

The lawsuit follows a similar one filed against Khloe Kardashian in which she posted a photo of herself on her social media accounts though she did not hold the copyright. Neither IMG nor Hadid had any comment on the lawsuit.


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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