3 Count: Partly Sonny (and Cher)

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1: Cher Wins Royalties Lawsuit Against Sonny Bono’s Widow Over Decades-Old Divorce Settlement

First off today, Bill Donahue at Billboard reports that a California judge has ruled that the widow of Sonny Bono must continue to pay Cher 50% of the publishing royalties for their songs, saying that copyright termination does not negate a 1978 divorce settlement.

Bono and Cher performed as the duo Sonny and Cher from 1964 to 1974. They were married in 1967 but divorced in 1978, with a settlement that granted Cher 50% of the publishing rights to the music they created before the split. Bono remarried but died in 1998 in a skiing accident.

Bono’s widow, Mary Bono, filed for copyright termination in 2016. Copyright termination allows original creators to reclaim their rights in older works, usually in a bid to renegotiate agreements. However, in this case, the judge ruled that copyright termination does not override the divorce settlement, meaning Mary Bono will still have to split the royalties. Mary Bono may appeal the decision.

2: Licensees Hit with £32K Sky Piracy Fines

Next up today, Colin Mann at Advanced Television reports that two businesses in the United Kingdom have been ordered to pay a total of £32,133.28 ($41,000) plus another £21,503.05 ($27,400) in costs.

The local broadcaster Sky filed the cases, accusing the two businesses of illegally showing Sky Sports programming on their premises. They filed the cases with the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court, which granted the victory.

In a statement, Sky said they actively visit thousands of pubs and other locations every season to monitor if they illegally show such content. This is part of a broader effort to enforce license requirements for showing sporting events at pubs, restaurants and other public businesses.

3: Reggaeton Stars Fail to Get Massive ‘Fish Market’ Copyright Case Thrown Out

Finally today, Edvard Pettersson at Courthouse News Service reports that dozens of reggaeton artists will have to face a lawsuit that accuses them of illegally sampling a 1989 rhythm track.

The case was filed by Cleveland Browne and the estate of the late Wycliffe Johnson. They performed under the name Steely & Clevie and recorded a song entitled Fish Market. The drum pattern from that song was then used in a series of songs the next year, resulting in the track being sampled by dozens of other artists.

The defendants filed a motion to dismiss, saying that the plaintiffs didn’t own the track’s copyright due to delayed copyright registration. However, the judge ruled that the lawsuit could move forward. The judge did not rule or comment on the case’s merits, just the ownership arguments.

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