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George Clinton's Publisher's War (III)
Highest Court Sixth Circuit
Year Ended 2005
Plaintiffs Bridgeport Music
Nine Records
Southfield Music
Westbound Records
Defendants Dimension Films
Miramax Films
No Limit Films
Other Clinton, George
N.W.A.
Parliament-Funkadelic
Short Description Bridgeport Music (publisher for Funkadelic), Westbound Music (the record label), and other related music companies, sued various media companies responsible for distributing NW.A.'s song "100 Miles and Running," which sampled Clinton's "Get Off Your Ass and Jam." Over numerous rehearings, the Sixth Circuit eventually found for Plaintiffs regarding the sampling claims. Defendants had received an oral license, followed by a retroactive written license, from co-owners of the musical composition, which the District Court held validated Defendants' use of Clinton's melodies. But that did not cover the sound recording itself, which is a separate copyright. The Distrct Court found the use to be "de minimis," even though blatant sampling had indeed occurred, saying it must strike a balance between property and creativity. On appeal, Westbound challenged the latter holding, arguing that no "de minimis" inquiry should be allowed, since copying had been admitted by Defendants. The Court of Appeal agreed, and in several controversial decisions held that, where copying is proved (or admitted), no such inquiry should be had, as the rule is simple: "Get a license or do not sample." Defendants could have re-recorded the clips without a license for Westbound's copyrights, as they had a license for the underlying musical notes. As the court stated, the sampling in question "is a physical taking rather than an intellectual one." Though the use was arguably "de minimis" (it may not have been, since the clip was 7 seconds long and appeared numerous times), the physical use of another's work product was copyright infringement by definition. The appellate court did allow the District Court to examine the issue of "fair use," though no holding was rendered on that point. Ancillary issues were also decided regarding complaint amendment and attorneys' fees, but the sampling issue is of primary concern, and the court's holding has been commonly cited by copyright commentators. - LSW

Legal Issues
Constitutional Law First Amendment Fair Use, Parody & Artistic Protection
Copyrights Infringement Sampling & Distribution/Dissemination


Opinions Bridgeport, Inc. v. Dimension Films
410 F.3d 792
Sixth Circuit , June 03, 2005 ( Nos. 02-6521, 03-5738 )


Bridgeport, Inc. v. Dimension Films
401 F.3d 647
Sixth Circuit , September 07, 2004 ( Nos. 02-6521, 03-5738 )


Bridgeport, Inc. v. Dimension Films
383 F.3d 390
Sixth Circuit , September 07, 2004 ( _ )


Bridgeport, Inc. v. Dimension Films
230 F.Supp.2d 830
M.D. Tennessee , October 11, 2002 ( No. 301-0412 )


Bridgeport Music, Inc. v. 11C Music
202 F.R.D. 229
M.D. Tennessee , July 25, 2001 ( No. 3:01-0412 )


Bridgeport Music, Inc. v. 11C Music
154 F.Supp.2d 1330
M.D. Tennessee , August 02, 2001 ( No. 3:01-0412 )


Bridgeport Music, Inc. v. Still N The Water Pub.
327 F.3d 472
Sixth Circuit , May 05, 2003 ( Nos. 02-5165 through 02-5175, 02-5227 through 02-5234 )


Bridgeport Music, Inc. v. Still N The Water Pub.
540 U.S. 948
Supreme Court of the United States , October 14, 2003 ( No. 03-215 )


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Related Searches Parties
Bridgeport Music ( Plaintiff )
Clinton, George ( Other )
Dimension Films ( Defendant )
Miramax Films ( Defendant )
N.W.A. ( Other )
Nine Records ( Plaintiff )
No Limit Films ( Defendant )
Parliament-Funkadelic ( Other )
Southfield Music ( Plaintiff )
Westbound Records ( Plaintiff )

Legal Issues
Constitutional Law / First Amendment / Fair Use, Parody & Artistic Protection
Copyrights / Infringement / Sampling & Distribution/Dissemination

Courts
Sixth Circuit (highest court)
M.D. Tennessee


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