Philadelphia associate Sathima Jones was recently recognized by the ABA’s Section of Science and Technology Law, which included her 2015 article entitled <em><a href="https://www.americanbar.org/publications/litigation-committees/minority-trial-lawyer/practice/2015/blurring-lines-between-infringement-and-inspiration.html">Blurring the Lines Between Infringement and Inspiration</a></em> in a CLE Presentation at the 2017 ABA Annual Meeting on August 10, 2017 in New York City.
The CLE entitled <em>Unblurring the Lines: Navigating the Complex Relationship between Technology, Music and Copyright Law</em>, included a distinctive panel of musicians, musicologists and prominent experts in the music copyright litigation field. Notably, Bob Kohn, author of Kohn on Music, who won the 1996 case, Lotus v. Borland (a Supreme Court decision that set wide precedent on the extent of software copyright) spoke on the difficulties in bringing and proving an infringement case. Also in attendance was Jonathan D. Davis, a trademark and copyright litigator with over 35 years of experience and an impressive roster of clients, including Shawn Combs, Usher, and Timbaland.
The panel discussion focused most prominently on the 2015 federal case involving the smash hit “Blurred Lines”, in which the Estate of Marvin Gaye won a substantial award based on claims that Robin Thicke and Pharrell used multiple elements form Gaye’s song “Got to Give it Up.” Similar themes were explored with respect Sprit’s 2016 challenge of Led Zeppelin’s song “Stairway to Heaven” and Tom Petty’s 2015 challenge alleging Sam Smith’s Song Stay With Me shared a similar chorus with “I won’t Back Down.”
Drawing parallel themes from Ms. Jones’ article, the CLE explored the nuances of copyright law that pose difficulty in determining whether an artist has infringed a work or merely been inspired, and the challenges that litigators in proving these cases.
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