I am an attorney at Morado Law, PLLC.  I practice in the areas of entertainment and intellectual property law.


Congrats to client Kevin Lavitt

Congratulations to client Kevin Lavitt on the release of his EP, Planets.  Two years in the making, the eight-track release features the talents of numerous collaborators, including Alana Belle, Ariana DeBoo, Dave B, Kung Foo Grip, Mario Sweet, Sam Lachow, and Thig Nat.  The full album is available for download at here.  Below is one of the soulful singles, enjoy:


Jurors reach verdict in "Blurred Lines" trial

The jury has reached a verdict in the “Blurred Lines” trial, finding that Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams copied the Marvin Gaye song “Got to Give it Up.”  Although the jury found that the infringement was not willful, they awarded the Gaye estate nearly $7.4 million in damages.

Many music industry insiders as well as legal analysts have criticized the verdict as improperly lowering the bar for music copyright infringement.  The verdict is also hard to fathom given that the jurors were instructed to only consider copyrighted elements contained in the sheet music, and not the actual recording of “Got to Give it Up” (explained in my previous post here).  Although there will likely be an appeal, the decision is expected to have a chilling effect on the music industry.  



"Blurred Lines" copyright infringement trial

In a rare copyright infringement case that has reached the trial stages, this week, jurors will decide whether the song “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke, Pharrell, and T.I. infringes on the Marvin Gaye song, “Got to Give it Up.”  In response to cease and desist letters from the Gaye estate, Thicke, Pharrell, and T.I. preemptively brought suit in March of 2013, asking the Court for a declaratory judgment that the song “Blurred Lines” was non-infringing.  In response, the Gaye estate brought counterclaims alleging intentional copyright infringement.

In order to prevail on their infringement claims, the Gaye estate must show: 1) ownership of a valid copyright; 2) the defendants had access to “Got to Give it Up;” and 3) that “Blurred Lines” is substantially similar to “Got to Give it Up.”  Of these three elements, only the third is at issue in the case. 

Earlier in the case, the defendants unsuccessfully moved for summary judgment that “Blurred Lines” was non-infringing.  Although the motion was unsuccessful, the judge’s ruling contained a silver lining.  In his decision, Judge Kronstadt ruled that because the Gaye estate had failed to make sufficient sound recording deposits as part of their original copyright registration (governed by the former 1909 Copyright Act), at trial, the Gaye estate will only be allowed to cite to elements of the copyright that were included in their sheet music deposit.  This ruling will likely prove advantageous to the defendants, because the sound recording of “Got to Give it Up” contains numerous elements (including some of the vocals, the percussive instruments, keyboards, and bass parts) that were not included in the plaintiffs’ sheet music deposit accompanying their federal copyright registration. 

The case has also had its share of curiosities, including wild deposition testimony in which Thicke claimed that he was continuously high on Vicodin, vodka, and cocaine for an entire year and as a result, couldn’t have possibly written “Blurred Lines.”  In opening statements, counsel for the Gaye estate cautioned the jury that Pharrell and Thicke “will wink at you and they’ll be charming.  But keep one thing in mind.  They are professional performers.”   The trial is expected to be concluded this week.  Stay tuned for the verdict – and judge for yourself whether “Blurred Lines” is derivative of the Gaye original, below:



Congratulations to client Perfume Genius

Congratulations to client Perfume Genius on the release of his subversive music video for the single “Queen,” from his upcoming LP “Too Bright.”  The song reached #6 on the Billboard emerging artists chart, and has also received favorable reviews by Pitchfork, Time Magazine, and Rolling Stone.  

The video explores the underlying rage caused by “gay panic,” with “an alternative universe Forrest Gump and Jenny, except with fluid genders and ever-shifting identities,” according to the press release.  Among other things, the video features a pack of baby pigs, a one-legged Elvis impersonator, computer smashing, business executives chowing down on giant shrimp, and more.  Enjoy:


Court affirms that Sherlock Holmes characters are public domain

The estate of Arthur Conan Doyle, owners of the rights to the original Sherlock Holmes novels, threatened to sue author Leslie Klinger if he didn’t obtain a license to publish “In the Company of Sherlock,” an anthology based on the characters Sherlock Holmes and his sidekick Dr. Watson.  In response, Klinger sued the estate, seeking a declaratory judgment that the copyright to the Sherlock Holmes characters had expired, placing them in the public domain.  The trial court found in favor of Klinger, and the Doyle estate appealed the decision.

In its appeal, the estate argued that although the copyright on all but ten of the Sherlock Holmes novels had expired, the copyright on the characters themselves had not expired because they were “round” rather than “flat” characters.  In other words, since the complexity of the “round” characters was not fully revealed until the characters evolved in Doyle’s later novels, Sherlock and Watson should remain protected by copyright until the later novels became public domain.   

The Court of Appeals rejected the estate’s novel argument, finding no basis under either the Copyright Act or the case law to extend the copyright protection of the Sherlock Holmes characters past their original date of expiration.  The Court noted that although Doyle had clearly added additional, distinctive features to his characters in his later novels, these alterations did not revive the expired copyrights on the original characters.  The case is Klinger v. Conan Doyle Estate Ltd., accessible here.