[originally published on October 21, 2015 at www.law-dlc.com]
In August, Ryan Adams announced his intentions to release song-by-song and nearly note-for-note cover of Taylor Swift’s “1989” album. He covered every single song and all of the same lyrics, just stripped down and re-recorded as a more guitar-based interpretation. It is a rather audacious project for an artist that is more of an indie musician than a pop star. After the release of his covers album, many people asked me that all-too-common question:
How is that legal? How is that not copyright infringement?
[originally posted September 23, 2015 at www.law-dlc.com]
By now it is likely you have seen the news story. On Tuesday, September 22, 2015, Judge George H. King, in the United States District Court for the Central District of California, ruled that Warner/Chappell, the publishing arm of Warner Music, did not have the right to enforce its claims in the copyright for the ubiquitous lyrics to the song “Happy Birthday.” The legal implications are that the song lyrics may be in the public domain and free to use by all.
The question many of you likely also have is “how was ‘Happy Birthday’ still subject to a copyright after all these years?” It can be somewhat complicated.
[originally published September 18, 2015 on www.law-dlc.com]
In January 2014, Rick Ross sued LMFAO for copyright infringement over their use of lyrics from their song “Party Rock Anthem.” In particular, Ross claims that LMFAO are infringing on his copyright in the phrase “Everyday I’m hustlin’” which is a phrase Ross claims originally appeared in his song “Hustlin’.” LMFAO modified the lyric to “Everyday I’m shufflin’” and also began selling t–shirts and clothing bearing the same phrase. Rick Ross apparently was not amused by this apparent derivative work.