Author: Kristen Tojo

Petty, Smith restore harmony with rights accord

It was shaping up to be a big-time copyright clash, with the songs at issue curiously reflecting their artist’s positions: rocker Tom Petty, for example, had his legal weight behind his hit, I Won’t Back Down, while balladeer Sam Smith staked out a less combative position, as summed up in his chart-topping, Stay With Me. In the end, as has been widely reported, the tune-smiths found harmonious agreement in a public, negotiated settlement that averted infringement litigation, the likes of which the courts are struggling in some other notable instances. Petty and Jeff Lynne, of ELO fame, each will receive a 12.5% writing credit and royalties for Smith’s Stay, whose similarities with Back Down rested in a stirring chorus and a verse. While the case never got to court, it’s clear that Petty and Lynne would have had to show access and similarity to prevail in an infringement claim; neither cause appears to have been a monumental task to prove. As for access, the 1989 Petty song is oft-cited as among his best-known works with numerous covers and versions. Petty himself is recognized as one of the most popular recording artists of the last thirty years.  As for similarity, numerous sources have pointed to the distinct likenesses between the two songs. Ed Rex at Medium reports how “whole passages are identical…. Of the four phrases, three are virtually identical....

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In Iggy Azalea ruling, rap’s ugly aspects show

When an ambitious teen from Down Under travels to the United States to launch a career in a rough-and-tumble part of the music business, the results aren’t always pretty, as the artist known as Iggy Azalea has discovered. A U.S. District Court in Los Angles recently granted her a preliminary injunction, enjoining Primco Management, ESMG Inc., and Wine Enterprises Inc. from using Azalea’s image and releasing what she calls unauthorized tracks from the rap star’s formative years.The order is part of litigation over an agreement that defendant Maurice Williams, aka Hefe Wine, claims Azalea signed in 2009 that gives him full ownership and exploitation rights to the early recordings. She says the accord is fabricated and her signature on it was forged — that it was cut and pasted from an early management contract with another individual that Wine took from Azalea. Just reading the ruling provides plenty of eyebrow-raising reading about the relationship-building in rap, which apparently can be a raw as the genre’s lyrics.The early recordings, Azalea asserts, were stolen from her during her brief relationship with Wine, when she was age 17 and he, among other things, made “unwelcome sexual advances” on her. Amethyst Amelia Kelly, aka Azalea, says he downloaded the contents of her personal computer, including unreleased musical sound recordings she created and performed. The performer, songwriter and model says she never completed nor approved...

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