On Monday, we discussed a lawsuit filed by filmmaker Jennifer Nelson that seeks to have a court declare the song “Happy Birthday to You” to be in the public domain. That New York Times story noted that another filmmaker, Steve James, had to pay $5,000 to use the song in the 1994 documentary “Hoop Dreams,” in which it is sung at an 18th birthday party for one of the two high school students that film. “It was an important scene, there was some amazement that Arthur had made it to 18,” James told the Times in 2005. “Of course, we wanted that in.”
Individuals working in the entertainment industry need to be acutely aware of the various copyright infringement issues that can arise when using other artist’s songs—or even portions of songs. Last month, entertainment lawyer Mita Carriman authored an interesting article entitled “4 Music Law Myths That Indie Musicians Need To Unlearn” for the music industry website Hypebot. Carriman noted that there are several myths regarding music law, but the four most common ones she cited were:
“There’s certainly a lot of gray area, which could lead a person to probably think that the law would be one way, when it isn’t,” Carriman wrote. Los Angeles business litigation lawyer Robert G. Klein helps clients with these sorts of intellectual property issues, and you can fill out the form on this page or you can contact our firm at (323) 405-1002 to have our Los Angeles copyright infringement lawyer review your case.
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