A DISCUSSION OF LAW AND JOURNALISM

Tag: copyright

Will Usher Have to Pay Up For Stealing Hit Song?

By Nadia-Elysse Harris

2004 was a fantastic year for R&B superstar Usher Raymond.  His album, Confessions, was certified ten times platinum.  His love life was the topic of discussion on every entertainment news and blog site.  And his hit song “Yeah” was played at every high school senior’s prom…at least three times.

In many ways Confessions was the peak of Usher’s career. Seven years and a couple of not as successful albums later, a little known group filed suit alleging that “Burn,” the second single on Usher’s hit album, was so similar to a song on their not-so-hit album that it had to have been stolen – a claim that could leave the famous singer’s pockets burning.

Ernest L. Straughter claims that a 1998 song he penned for the group “Reel Tight” entitled “No More Pain” shares considerable similarities with “Burn” including the song’s introduction, repeated melodic sequence and harmonic progressions.  Mr. Straughter is suing for copyright infringement and in September, a California judge ruled that the case holds enough weight to go forward to trial.

Billboard.com did a great job of outlining the specific claims in the suit, but didn’t take the extra step of analyzing Mr. Straughter’s likelihood of success.  Lucky for you, that’s where LASIS comes in.   (more…)

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Free Sampling: Copyright Law’s Rigid Regime Won’t Work

By Rachel DeLetto

Rachel DeLetto, New York Law School class of 2009, won first place in the 2009 ASCAP Nathan Burkan Scholarship Competition for this article.  We congratulate Rachel on her win.

The article first appeared in the New York State Bar Association’s Entertainment, Art and Sports Journal.

The first time I heard about Girl Talk all I knew were the facts: A Pittsburgh DJ with a cult following had just released for sale online a new album that contained songs he had composed on his laptop by digitally blending hundreds of unlicensed samples of contemporary Top 40 hits. Since courts have consistently seen sampling of sound recordings as ripping off the creative product of others, an act that is not looked upon favorably in the world of copyright law, my initial legal assessment was that this guy was about to be eaten alive by a mob of angry copyright holders.

To read more of this article, please download the full PDF below.

PDF ICONDeLetto on Free Sampling

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