​Complaining Work

​Defending Work

Gabor Presser & Anna Adamis

“Gyongyhaju Lany”

Audio Recording

Kanye West

“New Slaves”

Audio Recording


Comment by Charles Cronin

The defendant doesn’t deny that he used a substantial portion of the plaintiffs’ song in his own number, but claims rather that his use was permissible because the plaintiffs’ work was in the public domain. According to the defendant, it was a public domain work because the plaintiffs never obtained copyright protection for their song. The song, written and published in the late 1960s, is governed by the US 1909 Copyright Act, which requires a musical work to be published with a valid copyright notice, and then registered.

The facts of the dispute are a bit confusing however because it appears that the defendant only determined that the plaintiffs’ work was in the public domain after being sued for infringement. According to the filings (see below) the defendant had earlier attempted to reach agreement regarding compensation to the plaintiff for his use of his song. The case was dismissed in March 2017, with each party bearing its own costs and attorneys’ fees. Unless the parties settled on terms by which the defendant would provide the plaintiffs a portion of past and ongoing royalties from his “New Slaves”, the plaintiffs would likely have been better off accepting what appears to have been a good-faith gesture on the part of the defendant’s attorney in offering them $10,000 at the time defendant’s song was most popular.


Amended Complaint: PDF

Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss PDF