Court Approves Copyright Hearings Against Justin Bieber, Usher
June 19, 2015 at 1:09 PM (PT)
A federal appeals court upheld a copyright infringement lawsuit against JUSTIN BIEBER and USHER yesterday, in a report on NATIONALJOURNAL.COM.
A three-judge panel of the 4th CIRCUIT of the U.S. COURT OF APPEALS unanimously ruled that there is sufficient reason to allow a jury to consider whether "Somebody to Love," a 2010 chart-topper from the two pop icons, bears too much resemblance to an earlier song of the same name recorded by two VIRGINIA musicians, DEVIN COPELAND and MAREJO OVERTON.
The decision comes on the heels of several recent high-profile cases, including the successful one brought by the family of MARVIN GAYE against PHARRELL WILLAMS and ROBIN THICKE over whether "Blurred Lines" represent homage or infringement, awarding a $7 million settlement.
"After listening to the COPELAND song and the BIEBER and USHER songs as wholes, we conclude that their choruses are similar enough and also significant enough that a reasonable jury could find the songs intrinsically similar," Judge PAMELA HARRIS wrote for the court.
The case will now be sent to a lower federal court, where it was dismissed more than a year ago on grounds that no reasonable jury would conclude copyright infringement had occurred. HARRIS said that the lower court concentrated too much on differences between music genres and not enough on the similarities of chords and beats.
"In our view, that analysis attaches too much weight to what the district court termed a difference in 'mood' and 'tone,' and too little to similarities between the "element" of the songs— their choruses—that is most important," HARRIS wrote. "A reasonable jury could find that these small variations would not prevent a member of the general public from hearing substantial similarity."
The case is expected to be settled out of court and never reach a jury. Earlier this year, SAM SMITH came to an agreement with TOM PETTY after similarities surfaced between SMITH's hit, "Stay With Me" and his own 1989 smash, "I Won't Back Down."
The recording industry has lately been more aggressive lobbying Capitol Hill for more copyright and music-licensing reform.