3 Count: Musical Theater

I want to sing and dance...

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1: Appeals Court Rules Against Music-Licensing Firm Suing Burbank High Show Choir

First off today, Vera Castaneda at the LA Times reports that the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld a lower court’s dismissal of a copyright infringement lawsuit brought against the Burbank High School Vocal Music Association over allegations the group was performing music without a license.

The lawsuit was filed by Tresóna Multimedia LLC, an Arizona-based company that licenses musical compositions for public performances. However, of the four songs that they sued over, the court ruled that they did not have an exclusive license over three of them. Thus, the court ruled they had no standing to file the lawsuit with regards to those works. As for the last one, the court ruled that the performance of it was protected under fair use.

The courts in the case took special exception to the fact that, in addition to suing the non-profit organization behind the club, the plaintiffs also directly sued several of the parents that help with it. Attorney A. Eric Bjorgum, who represented the boosters, said he hoped that this would reduce the situations in which schools would have to pay license fees for music.

2: Judge Tosses Copyright Suit Involving Josh Groban Song ‘You Raise Me Up’

Next up today, Gene Maddaus at Variety reports that a federal judge has tossed a lawsuit against Josh Groban, despite the fact the plaintiffs had the same musicologist that helped the Gaye estate win the Blurred Lines lawsuit.

The lawsuit was filed by Icelandic singer-songwriter Johann Helgason, or rather his publishing company, who claimed that Groban’s 2003 hit You Raise Me Up was an infringement of his 1977 song Soknudur. However, the judge has tossed the case saying that the expert witness work was “unreliable, unhelpful, and inadmissible.”

In addition to the similarities between each other, the songs both share similarities with the song Danny Boy, which is a public domain folk song. According to the judge, when you eliminate the similarities with Danny Boy, there simply isn’t enough to sustain a lawsuit. As such, the judge dismissed the case.

3: Will Arnett’s ‘Memory Hole’ Accused of Plagiarism

Finally today, Gavia Baker-Whitelaw at the Daily Dot reports that the mobile streaming service Quibi may have launched this week but outages and user frustration aren’t the only issues the new platform is facing. One YouTube channel is accusing it of ripping off their idea, name and logo.

The issue focuses on the Quibi show Memory Hole, which features host Will Arnett and shares vintage VHS footage and other older content that, theoretically, most of us have forgotten. However, the YouTube channel Everything is Terrible pointed out on Twitter that they had a series by the same name that did, quite literally, the same thing over ten years ago.

According to a tweet from Everything is Terrible, in addition to copying the name and idea, Quibi also copied their logo. However, Shout Factory, the company that produced the show, says that the idea came from George Orwell’s 1984 and that they stand by their work. There has been no word on a potential copyright or trademark lawsuit based on these similarities.

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