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MSK Mentioned in Law360's "Top 7 Copyright Rulings Of 2020: A Midyear Report"

June 25, 2020

MSK was mentioned in the article, "Top 7 Copyright Rulings Of 2020: A Midyear Report," published by Law360 on June 25, 2020 for two cases (Estate of James Oscar Smith et al. v. Cash Money Records Inc. et al. and Gray v. Perry). MSK Intellectual Property partner Christine Lepera was the lead counsel on both cases. 

From the article...

6. Estate of James Oscar Smith v. Cash Money Records

The Second Circuit's February decision — rejecting a lawsuit against Drake over a snippet of spoken-word jazz featured in his 2013 song "Pound Cake" — was a rare application of fair use to music sampling.

The appeals court said Drake didn't violate copyright law by incorporating a 35-second clip of a song called "Jimmy Smith Rap" into the 2013 hit, saying it was a "transformative" new use of the old material.

"The message of the 'Jimmy Smith Rap' is one about the supremacy of jazz to the derogation of other types of music, which — unlike jazz — will not last," the panel wrote. "On the other hand, 'Pound Cake' sends a countermessage — that it is not jazz music that reigns supreme, but rather all 'real music,' regardless of genre."

A fair use ruling was an unusual sight in a case over music sampling. The vast majority of outright samples by mainstream artists in today's music industry are "cleared" as a matter of course, and the litigation over those that aren't has focused on other issues.

The case is Estate of James Oscar Smith et al. v. Cash Money Records Inc. et al., case number 19-28, in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

Read the full ruling HERE.

Six More Rulings You Need To Know ...

Gray v. Perry

A direct product of the "Stairway to Heaven" ruling, this March decision by a California federal judge overturned a headline-grabbing jury verdict that Katy Perry's 2013 song "Dark Horse" had infringed an earlier Christian rap song.

Read the full ruling HERE.

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