Disputed Work

Toni Basil, a.k.a. Antonia Basilotta


Audio Recording


AMC Studios

Trailer for season 2 of TV series “Preacher”

Audio/video Recording

Comment by Charles Cronin

There does not appear to have been any dispute over the fact that the defending work contains substantial protectable musical expression of the plaintiff’s work. Instead, the issue of infringement in this dispute turned on the question of ownership of the complaining work. If, as plaintiff Toni Basil claimed, she was the sole owner of the sound recording copyright in her song, AMC would, of course, have had to obtain a license from her to use the recording in the soundtrack of its trailer for the second season of “Preacher” (a show which appears to be mainly a celebration of gun violence, and yet more evidence of the urgent need to repeal the 2nd Amendment).

The resolution of the ownership issue was effected in independent litigation initiated in 2013, in which the plaintiff reclaimed her sound recording copyright under the U.S. Copyright Act’s termination provision. Stillwater, a U.K. production company that had acquired rights to the song from the record label that originally released the recording, challenged plaintiff’s sole authorship claim, insisting that the recording was a jointly authored work. In 2019 the district court determined that the plaintiff was the sole owner of the sound recording copyright, after which the plaintiff initiated this claim against AMC. She appears to have taken a risk in doing so because the defendant in the ownership dispute had appealed the district court’s judgment, and this appeal was not disposed of by the time the plaintiff initiated her suit against AMC.

But things seem to have ended well for Ms. Basilotta… The instant case settled within months of its filing — presumably involving plaintiff’s obtaining an agreeable pay-out from deep-pocketed AMC. And in May 2022, the Ninth Circuit upheld the lower court’s determination that she was the sole author, and newly reinstated copyright owner, of the recording in question.


Complaint: PDF