Complaining Work

Defending Work

John Wilson, Charles Still & Terrance Stubbs

“Sho’ Nuff”

Hear Audio

Justin Timberlake

“Suit & Tie”

 Hear Audio

Comment by Charles Cronin

In this dispute there was no question that Justin Timberlake sampled the copyrighted recording by the Plaintiffs. At issue here is the question who owns the copyright in the underlying work, and the recording of it, and therefore should be compensated for Timberlake’s use of it.

The Complaint (below) comprises a lengthy list of statements relating to the tortured and bewildering history of ownership of the Plaintiffs’ musical work and the sound recording of it, during its initial and renewal copyright terms. Even the appellate opinion of esteemed copyright expert Judge Pierre Leval does not make this “series of unfortunate events” readily digestible, but it does narrow the issue to whether the district court erred in dismissing Plaintiffs’ allegations that were based on their claim to the renewal term copyrights in the underlying work and the sound recording.

Judge Leval concluded that the district court did err in dismissing the claim on grounds it was not timely lodged. The Plaintiffs, he determined, could not be required to be aware of the fact that, and the date on which, Defendants filed a copyright registration in the sound recording repudiating Plaintiffs’ alleged copyright interest in the work.  In December 2018 the parties agreed to the terms of a confidential settlement.



Complaint: PDF

Opinion by Judge Leval: PDF