Copyrights Infringement





Copyrights Infringement

In 2009, the judge of the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit presided over a case of copyright infringement presented by Leonard Jones and James White against Mary J. Blige, Dr. Dre and the Universal Music Group. The plaintiffs claimed that Blige’s song, ‘Family Affair’ contained an infringement from the song by Acker, ‘Party Ain’t Crunk’. White was Acker’s manager, and he registered the song with the Copyright authorities before forwarding its demo to the Universal Music Group ((Jones v. Blige 558 F.3d 485 (6th Cir. 2009)). This recording company, which also caters for the production of Blige’s songs, asserted that they returned the demo to the plaintiffs with a rejection note after one of their professionals listened to it. The evidence presented before this law court confirmed that Blige recorded her song way before Universal Music Group received Acker’s song. However, after listening to ‘Family Affair’ through the radio, White initiated this legal process with claims of copyright violation.  

Judge Cole’s main task was not to identify the similarities between the two songs based on the American copyright laws, but rather to provide a fair verdict on the complainants’ claims of illegal access by an employee of the Universal Music Group, and the subsequent awareness by Blige on the lyrics and beats prior to its release. However, the arbitrator of this case dismissed the connection of an employee to the case based only on the argument of the existing association with the recording company in question. Based on their presentation of facts and other valid arguments, the judge granted the defendants a summary judgment as stipulated in the copyright laws of the United States((Jones v. Blige 558 F.3d 485 (6th Cir. 2009)). The decision by the judge of the district court was in line with two arguments that relate to the stipulated laws and verdicts of similar court cases tackled in the past. Firstly, the complainants did not respond satisfactorily to the court’s verification request highlighting that the lyrics of both songs did not bear significant similarities and that the complainants did not have direct access to the words of Acker’s song. The lack of a response led the judge to assume that the plaintiffs had conceded to the points as directed by the existing legal guidelines.

In addition, the district court comprehended that no member of the jury could conclude that the two songs have substantial resemblance in relation to the lyrics. Moreover, the plaintiffs had presented valid evidence indicating that Blige and her team had composed ‘Family Affair’ autonomously. The complainants also lacked substantial verification to support the direct access of Acker’s lyrics by the defendants before the release of the song. Nonetheless, the judge dismissed the request by both parties to include the statements of witnesses with expertise on this subject matter. This is because the plaintiffs failed to present an expert on the date provided by the court for deposition. Following the ruling on the summary judgment, the defendants sought to obtain attorney’s fees although the district court denied this request citing insufficient evidence to support their demands.

The decisions by the district court were in line with some of the verdicts of previous court cases comprising of similar issues as well as stipulations in the Copyrights Act of the United States. For instance, in the case between Miller and the Administrative Office of the Courts in 2006, a party in the court may benefit from the provisions of a summary judgment if complaints and evidence presented in the court indicate a lack of a valid case on the judgment of the individual based on the stipulated rules. However, for a judge to make such a ruling, he or she has to consider all the reasonable claims of the non-moving party. Additionally, the rules on copyright infringement offer a court the opportunity to compare the two conflicting works, and make a ruling in favor of the defendant if the legal provisions relating to the particular court case do not permit the jury to search for substantial similarity ((Jones v. Blige 558 F.3d 485 (6th Cir. 2009)). However, as indicated in the Copyright Act, summary judgment is not a common practice used in favor of the defending party.

Moreover, the decision by the district court related to the guidelines provided by the copyright laws of the United States and other precedent court cases regarding this subject matter. For example, in order for a complainant to win in a court case on copyright violation, he or she ought to provide substantial evidence on the ownership of the copyrighted work and the subsequent violation of the embedded rules by the defendant. This is with respect to the provisions of the Copyright Act, which states that the assertions on copyright infringement have to bear verifications of the exclusive rights and breach of these provisions by highlighting the copied elements and justifying such allegations. Moreover, the complainant may provide proof of the illegal access to the original elements of his copyrighted creations by highlighting the undeniable similarities between the two conflicting works (Espejo 51). However, these similarities must indicate a sense of copying from the original work owned by the claimant.

With reference to the arguments presented by the petitioners in this court case, the judge dismissed their allegations by indicating that the mere possibility of access of the plaintiffs’ work by the defendants was not adequate to make a ruling in their favor. In addition to verifying that an employee of this company had knowledge on the content of Acer’s song prior to its release, the complainants had to present evidence that the defendants used the content of the infringed work in their creation without the knowledge of the petitioners and before the release of the song to the public. The plaintiff also used the corporate receipt element to argue their case. Based on this doctrine, the access to a copyrighted work by an employee means its possession by another worker in the same company and the possible infringement of the original piece (Espejo 35). Nonetheless, this concept was not beneficial to the complainants due to the lack of proper stipulations in the copyrights rules or similar verdict in previous court cases indicating the validity of this argument.  

After appealing for the attorney’s fees, the defendants won based on the stipulations of the Copyright Act ((Jones v. Blige 558 F.3d 485 (6th Cir. 2009)). This provides the law court with the authority of compensation for or against a party depending on the evidence provided. Based on the arguments highlighted in this paper, I agree with the court’s decision on the summary judgment and the provision of the attorney’s fees to the defendants. I believe that allegations of access to a copyrighted work have to bear substantial evidence indicating the subsequent infringement, especially in such situations where the claims relate to a third person in a recording company. Moreover, the defendants provided irrefutable proof that Blige released her song way before White forwarded the demo to the Universal Music Group.

Works Cited

Espejo, Roman. Copyright Infringement. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2009. Print.

Jones v. Blige 558 F.3d 485 (6th Cir. 2009). Music Copyright Infringement Resource. Retrieved from:

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