Copyright infringement lawsuit seeking more than just a ‘sorry’

Glenn W. Peterson

The music industry has seen an incredible amount of legal disputes in recent years. Disputes involving artists, consumers, creators, producers and distributors are not uncommon, considering the amount of material out there and the numerous ways in which music is used and accessed.

One of the most common types of disputes in this industry is a copyright infringement dispute. Often in these cases, the creator of a piece of music makes a claim that someone else has used that piece of music without permission and without properly crediting the creator.

For instance, recently, a woman filed a lawsuit against Justin Bieber, Skrillex and the other people involved in the hit song “Sorry.” She says that a four-note riff in that song was taken from her own song and used without her permission.

In many cases, it would be incredibly difficult to prove where such a small piece of music came from. However, in this situation, the artist Skrillex released a video showing that the notes in question were developed using the recording of a song another artist (presumably with permission) and then altered to fit into the song.

However, the woman who filed the lawsuit claims the riff was lifted from one of her original songs and she is seeking damages. While the “Sorry” artists may have created it without using her music directly, the woman says it mirrors hers so closely that it violates copyright.

Copyright infringement claims are rarely black-and-white. Oftentimes, they fall into a large gray area where both sides have legitimate arguments to defend their actions. If the two sides can’t resolve the situation on their own, it will be left in the hands of a judge or jury to determine which side prevails.

In any situation involving allegations of copyright infringement, there can be a lot on the line, from negotiation powers to royalties. Having an attorney by your side to protect your rights and develop your legal strategy can be crucial; those who don’t do this may find themselves feeling a bit sorry.