Mary J. Blige & Keri Hilson Sued for #Copyright Infringement on ‘Take Me As I Am.’

In Music Law, Trial by FASHIONENTLAW™

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I have covered copyright infringement suits on the blog. Here is a story regarding two celebrities Keri Hilson and Mary J. Blige who have been sued for copyright infringement. Pay attention to the damages sought here by the Plaintiff who instituted the suit. The Plaintiff seeks “an accounting for all singles and albums sold in all formats, royalties and an accounting of publishing income derived from using the song in advertisements.”

This is not uncommon in a suit of this kind where the parties are music professionals. It is also where things gets nasty.

What law Governs Copyright Damages/Accounting?
17 U.S.C. § 504 governs the recovery of damages and profits in a copyright infringement action.

What Does the Law Do?
If Plaintiff prevails in lawsuit, it allows the Plaintiff to recover either injunctive and/or compensatory damages. The easier part is obviously the injunctive relief. The court can say “stop selling or singing the ‘Take Me as I am Song” any and everywhere. The challenging part is how do we determine what is owed Plaintiff, the compensatory part?

What Kinds of Compensatory Damage Can Plaintiff Receive?
Plaintiff can opt for Actual Damages and profits OR Statutory damages.

What is Actual Damages and Profits all about?
17 USC § 504(b) (the copyright law) says Plaintiff can get actual damages suffered as a result of the infringement AND any profits attributable to the infringement that were not taken into account when calculating actual damages.

Plaintiff must prove:

  • Defendants (Keri & MJB’s)  gross revenue from the song was, for example, $50 million.

Keri and MJB (defendants) must prove:

  • Their deductible expenses and any element of profit not attributed to the infringement. So, the defendants here will say, “yes the song made $50million but we had so many expenses deducted that we only made $1million so you should get what the court determines is appropriate off $1million not $50million.”

It’ s a dual burden for the parties. When all is said and done, we should emerge with Keri and MJB’s net profits which will then be paid to Plaintiff.

What about the Statutory Damages?

  • § 504(c)(1) of the statute permits “statutory” damages. It means the law essentially gives a range of what you get. It’s prescribed, already.
  • § 504(c)(2) of the statute says if Keri & MJB “willfully” infringed on the Plaintiff’s copyright, then Plaintiff can recover enhanced statutory damages. So, if willful, the court would not allow the defendants to subtract their federal income taxes, overhead expenses and/or certain other expenses.

That is it from me, for now. Read about the lawsuit on Allhiphopnews.com.

‘Take Me as I am’

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WHAT IS Fashionentlaw™: It is a law blog discussing hot topics in pop culture that arise primarily out of the fashion industry and intersects/ collides with the law. WHAT I DO: My name is Uduak Oduok and I am a California licensed attorney who helps creatives and business owners sleep better at night by protecting their creativity and reputation, securing their rights, and helping them with the monetization of their intellectual assets. WHO I WORK WITH: I have counseled a range of clients from musicians, models, actors, actresses, and designers, to diverse business owners in numerous areas of the law including contracts, business law, fashion and entertainment law, copyright, trademark, and intellectual property law. I bring over two decades of first-hand knowledge and experiences that are as diverse as they are deep in the fashion and entertainment industries (modeling, retail, production, public relations, journalism, and publishing). I am an attorney who “gets it” when it comes to resolving legal issues for the fashion and entertainment industries. INTERESTED IN TALKING TO ME ABOUT LEGAL REPRESENTATION? To arrange a consultation to discuss your case, contact me today at 916-361-6506 or email me directly at (uduak@ebitulawgrp.com). Full bio: Ms. Uduak Bio/ Twitter @uduaklaw

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