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First off today, Eriq Gardner at The Hollywood Reporter Esquire reports that the estate of Marvin Gaye has prevailed once again over Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams as the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has declined to rehear the Blurred Lines case, representing a possible end to the long-running case.
The estate sued Thicke and Williams claiming that their song Blurred Lines was an infringement of the Marvin Gaye song Got to Give it Up. In 2015, the estate won a controversial jury verdict that awarded the estate a 50% royalty on future exploitation of the song as well as millions in damages.
Thicke and Williams had appealed to the 9th Circuit but were defeated when a three-judge panel ruled against them. They then requested an en banc hearing, which would have put the matter before all nine judges at the circuit. However, the Appeals Court has denied that request. Thicke and Williams can petition the Supreme Court but that court only hears a small fraction of the cases appealed to it.
Next up today, Greg Evans at Deadline Hollywood reports that playwright Matthew Lombardo has emerged victorious in his battle against the estate of Dr. Seuss over his raunchy parody of How the Grinch Stole Christmas.
The play, entitled Who’s Holiday, is a one-woman show featuring Cindy Lou Who, the young child from Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas, as an adult. In the play, she is a bawdy woman who discusses, sex, heavy drinking and other adult subjects. The Seuss estate sued, claiming that the play was a copyright and trademark infringement. The lawsuit led to the cancellation of a 2016 off-Broadway staging of the play and extensive litigation.
The district court tossed the case, saying that the play was parody and a protected fair use. The estate appealed to the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, which has now upheld that dismissal with a unanimous decision. According to the Appeals Court, Lombardo’s right to free expression outweighs the Seuss estate’s needs to protect its intellectual property. This (quite literally) sets the stage for a potential Broadway performance of the play, which may begin a limited run later this year.
Finally today, Colby Hamilton at The New York Law Journal reports that a judge has tossed a lawsuit filed against author Chard Harbach saying that the two works involved were simply not similar enough to constitute a copyright infringement.
The lawsuit was filed author Charles Green who claimed that Harbach’s book The Art of Fielding was a copyright infringement of his book Bucky’s 9th. Both books focused on small college baseball teams and followed their struggles.
However, according to the judge, the similarities between the works were extremely limited and not protectable under copyright. The judge notes that, while the books have similar sports themes, the plot, characters and climaxes of the books are both different. As such the judge has dismissed the case though Green has promised to appeal the dismissal to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.