Entertainment Law Litigation Is Complex
While entertainment is a creative field, at times things can get dirty. In some cases, creatives find themselves experiencing mental blocks and as deadlines loom, the intellectual property (IP) of one entertainer, whether it is a songwriter, an artist, or an author, can wind up being circulated as the IP of another.
For example, in 1976, author Alex Haley released the pivotal epic Roots: The Saga of an American Family, which earned a Pulitzer Prize and led to a miniseries that kept rapt viewers watching as it dominated TV ratings.
Haley marketed the book as a true story tracing his ancestry back to African man Kunta Kinte, but he later admitted that he took creative license with much of the book. He also faced a plagiarism lawsuit from author Harold Courlander, a case that was settled out of court after Haley said he accidentally took three paragraphs from a work written by Courlander.
In such a case, the best course of action is to hire an attorney experienced in entertainment law litigation, a complex field that requires intricate knowledge of the laws surrounding entertainment law, such as plagiarism.
Internet Boosts Plagiarism Cases
According to a 2010 story appearing in the New York Times, the internet has given rise to elevated cases of plagiarism (the story’s headline, “Plagiarism Lines Blur for Students of the Digital Age,” ironic in that the 2013 Robin Thicke song “Blurred Lines” also resulted in a plagiarism suit from the family of late musician Marvin Gaye) because people don’t realize that using the material they have is considered plagiarism.
While the New York Times story was focused on student plagiarism, the same holds true in the entertainment industry. “Sampling,” the practice of using elements of one song in another—the lifeblood of hip-hop—has created an even more complex arena.
Preventing Plagiarism Suits
If you choose to sample from one song to create your own, negotiating either a writing credit or offering royalties can help prevent potential plagiarism issues, which could prove costly. The family of Marvin Gaye, for example, won more than $5 million in court, despite a limited connection between “Blurred Lines” and Gaye’s song “Got to Give it Up.” The family’s suit claimed “Blurred Lines” has the same “feel” and “sound” as Gaye’s work.
However, simply providing a writing credit and using the work isn’t enough to avoid legal issues.
If you have any concerns, contacting an entertainment law litigation attorney can be a good first step to protect yourself and your art.
Are You in Search of an Entertainment Law Litigation Attorney?
Contact the law office of Rowena Nelson, LLC. She and her team of skilled attorneys have the talents to tackle even the most complex entertainment law cases and can be reached via email at [email protected] or by calling (301)-358-3271 for a consultation.
Located in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, Rowena N. Nelson’s offices serve the entire state of Maryland.