​Complaining Work

​Defending Work

Eddie Lee Richardson (aka “Hotwire the Producer”)

“*Hood* Pushin’ Weight”

Audio Recording

Karim Kharbouch (aka “French Montana;
Excuse My French”)

“Ain’t Worried About Nothin”

Audio Recording

 

Comment by Charles Cronin

 

The Plaintiff’s work comprises a combination of different sounds heard in a repeating sequence over an underlying steady beat. It is akin to “music” heard in spas and yoga classes — assemblies of bird calls, tinkling bells, low-pitched drones, etc. — not meant to be listened to, but rather simply to establish a certain mood in the hearer. Accordingly, the Plaintiff’s claim depends largely on whether his work contains protectable original musical expression, and is not simply an assembly of un-protectable sounds. Assuming his choice and arrangement of these sounds evince at least a modicum of protectable original musical expression, it appears Defendant would be liable for infringement if he used in the background of his song a literal copy of this expression.

 

As courts have articulated in recent decisions in the claims against Katy Perry and Led Zeppelin, when a plaintiff’s infringement allegation is based on a claim to a particular choice and arrangement of otherwise unprotectable musical elements, his copyright protection is “thin”. Only works that are “virtually identical” to such thinly protected works could be considered infringing.

 

The Complaint (below) asserts Plaintiff registered his work as a Sound Recording (and apparently not ((also)) as Performing Arts work). Accordingly, although not expressly stated in the Complaint, the allegation might be interpreted as a claim of unauthorized sampling by the Defendants of Plaintiff’s protected recording. In either case, Defendants appear to have used a literal copy of the Plaintiff’s work and recording of it, and there are no apparent fair-use justifications for having done so.

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Complaint: PDF

District Court Order Denying Defendants’ Jurisdictional Challenge: PDF