Justia U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Copyright
Copeland v. Bieber
Devin Copeland, a musician, filed suit under the Copyright Act of 1976, 17 U.S.C. 101 et seq., against Justin Bieber and Usher Raymond IV, alleging that three recorded songs by defendants, each titled "Somebody to Love," infringe upon Copeland's copyright over his own, earlier song of the same name. On appeal, Copeland challenged the dismissal of his claim. The district court concluded that no reasonable jury could find that Copeland's song and defendants' songs sufficiently similar to give rise to liability for infringement. At issue was whether the songs at issue, assessed from the perspective of the intended audience - here, the general public - and taking into account their “total concept and feel,” are sufficiently intrinsically similar to give rise to a valid infringement claim. After listening to the Copeland song and the Bieber and Usher songs as wholes, the court concluded that their choruses are similar enough and also significant enough that a reasonable jury could find the songs intrinsically similar. Further, the choruses of the Copeland song and the Bieber and Usher songs are sufficiently important to the songs’ overall effect that they may be the basis for a finding of intrinsic similarity. The court declined to reach Copeland’s other arguments. Accordingly, the court vacated and remanded for further proceedings. View "Copeland v. Bieber" on Justia Law
Posted in: Copyright, Entertainment & Sports Law, Intellectual Property
Bouchat v. Baltimore Ravens Ltd.
This case concerned a dispute over the Baltimore Ravens "Flying B" logo. After the Ravens had played their first season in 1997, plaintiff filed his first lawsuit against them and the NFL, alleging that the logo infringed the copyright in three of his drawings. In this appeal, plaintiff challenged the NFL's use of the logo in three videos featured on its television network and various websites, as well as the Baltimore Ravens' display of images that included the logo as part of exhibits in its stadium "Club Level" seating area. The court affirmed the district court's finding that defendants' limited use of the logo qualified as fair use. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of defendants. View "Bouchat v. Baltimore Ravens Ltd." on Justia Law
Dash v. Mayweather, Jr.
Anthony Lawrence Dash filed suit against Floyd Mayweather, Jr., Mayweather Promotions, Mayweather Promotions LLC, Philthy Rich Records, Inc., and World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. (WWE), alleging that defendants violated his copyright by playing a variant of Dash's copyrighted music during Mayweather's entrance to two WWE events. On appeal, Dash challenged the district court's grant of summary judgment and its denial of reconsideration with respect to his entitlement to actual and profit damages under the Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. 504(b). The court found that an expert's report's, (the Einhorn Report) estimation of Dash's lost licensing fee, without more, was too speculative to show that "a reasonable jury could return a verdict" in Dash's favor on his actual damages claim, and therefore, summary judgment was appropriate; even if the Einhorn Report had suggested or even expressly concluded that the use of Dash's beat at WWE events was of some value to defendants, summary judgment would still be appropriate because the evidence supporting such conclusion was overly speculative in light of the record before the court and, therefore, was insufficient to establish a genuine dispute regarding Dash's actual damages; and the district court properly granted defendant summary judgment on Dash's claim for profit damages because Dash provided the factfinder with no reasonable basis for concluding that the infringement contributed to defendants' profits. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "Dash v. Mayweather, Jr." on Justia Law
Metropolitan Regional Info. Sys. v. American Home Realty Network
AHRN appealed the district court's entry of a preliminary injunction order prohibiting AHRN's display of MRIS's photographs on AHRN's referral website. The parties are competitors in the real estate listing business and MRIS contended that AHRN's unauthorized use of its copyrighted material constituted infringement under the Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. 101 et seq. The court concluded that MRIS was not barred from asserting infringement of its copyrighted photographs, which were registered as component works in its automated database registrations; MRIS was likely to succeed against AHRN in establishing its ownership of copyright interests in the copied photographs; and, therefore, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "Metropolitan Regional Info. Sys. v. American Home Realty Network" on Justia Law
Building Graphics, Inc. v. Lennar Corp.
Plaintiff, an architecture firm that specialized in designing single family homes, alleged that Lennar's architectural plans infringed on its copyrights. The court held that plaintiff did not have sufficient evidence to support a finding that there existed a reasonable possibility that Lennar had access to its copyrighted plans. Accordingly, the district court correctly concluded that as a matter of law, plaintiff lacked the evidence necessary to sustain its claims of copyright infringement. View "Building Graphics, Inc. v. Lennar Corp." on Justia Law
Tire Engineering and Distribution, LLC. v. Shandong Linglong Rubber Co.
Alpha sued defendants, foreign corporations, alleging that defendants conspired to steal its tire blueprints, produce infringing tires, and sell them to entities that had formerly purchased products from Alpha. A jury found in favor of Alpha on all claims and the district court upheld the damages award against defendants' post-trial challenges. Defendants subsequently appealed, contesting the verdict and the district court's exercise of personal jurisdiction. The court initially held that the district court properly exercised jurisdiction over defendants. The court affirmed the district court's judgment that defendants were liable to Alpha under the Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. 101 et seq., and for conversion under Virginia law, but the court dismissed the remaining theories of liability submitted to the jury. Accordingly, the court affirmed the jury's damages award. Finally, the court vacated the district court's award of attorneys' fees. View "Tire Engineering and Distribution, LLC. v. Shandong Linglong Rubber Co." on Justia Law