Sunday, December 29, 2013

Robin Thicke, Fair Use, Jackson v. AEG: Entertainment's Top Legal Disputes of 2013; Billboard, 12/27/13

Eriq Gardner, Billboard; Robin Thicke, Fair Use, Jackson v. AEG: Entertainment's Top Legal Disputes of 2013: "The year was so jam-packed with legal tussling that many show-stopping developments failed to make the cut of our top legal disputes from 2013...But in our view, here, in reverse order, are the ones that were the most gripping from 2013:... 7. Robin Thicke looks to protect "Blurred Lines" from theft claims For as long as there has been pop music, there's been fighting over who stole or borrowed or sampled what from whom. When Robin Thicke and his producers filed a lawsuit this past summer against Marvin Gaye's children, a few things raised the bar: The lawsuit was a preemptive strike against allegations that the year's most successful song was a derivative of Gaye's "Got to Give It Up." The litigation now involves both sides enlisting some of the industry's most esteemed lawyers to wrangle over the issue of when similarity in songcraft rises to copyright infringement. Now there's even a counterclaim that raises the issue of a conflict and lack of diligence by one of the industry's biggest song publishers... 5. "Fair Use" explodes as a public issue Technology has made duplication easier than ever. A counterpoint to copyright is fair use, or lawful exceptions to a rights-holder's ability to control derivatives. This past year brought two huge decisions on this front. First, after a nearly decade-long fight, Google got a federal judge to declare that its scanning of some 20 million library books was a fair use. Second, an appeals court concluded that artist Richard Prince had made fair use of most of photographer Patrick Cariou's work. Both cases are ongoing (on appeal or back at the trial court). Meanwhile, the issue of what's transformative and what's not has entered the public stream of conscious in other ways -- from Sony Pictures' win over a William Faulkner quote referenced in Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris to the recent controversy over a toy company's use of The Beastie Boys' "Girls.""

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