A copyright infringement case Satriani v. Coldplay
Imagine this: <ul><li>You have written a song for your band. Your band plays the song at a party. At the party, you see a member of a very popular band, the HDs, listening to your song. </li></ul>Two months later, the HDs release a new song: It is your song. It has the same melody only with different lyrics. www.educateIP.org
Is that wrong? <ul><li>Have the HDs done something wrong? </li></ul>If so, what? www.educateIP.org YES NO
Can you steal a song? Stealing a song is different from ordinary theft. For example, when someone steals your bike, it is gone. But your song is not gone. A song is a special kind of property: intellectual property . Your song is protected by copyright. As soon as you write down the song or record it on a CD, it is copyrighted . You own the copyright, and other people may not copy it without your permission. If they do, you can sue them for copyright infringement . www.educateIP.org
Lawsuits over copyrights are common. Courts must decide these cases. www.educateIP.org
True Story… Coldplay’s “ Viva la Vida” www.educateIP.org One case involved a song you have probably heard before… Video
Coldplay’s “Viva la Vida” was a huge hit! <ul><li>It reached #1 on the charts in both the U.K. and the U.S. </li></ul><ul><li>More than 4 million people paid to download the song. </li></ul><ul><li>It was the most downloaded song on iTunes in 2008. </li></ul>www.educateIP.org <ul><li>It won Song of the Year at the 2009 Grammy Awards. </li></ul>
But then…. <ul><li>American guitarist Joe Satriani thought Coldplay had copied his song “If I Could Fly.” </li></ul>He released his song in 2004, four years before Coldplay’s. www.educateIP.org Here’s what it sounds like. Play
Intellectual Property Entertainment Law Corporate Mergers In 2008, Satriani sued Coldplay. Imagine the members of Coldplay have selected you to be their lawyer on this case. Here are some details to help you figure out what to do about this case. Satriani argued that Coldplay had used his song without permission. Your job is to give Coldplay the best advice you can. Law Office www.educateIP.org
Factor 2: He must prove that Coldplay had access to the song. Satriani’s song is on an album that was released in 2004, so Coldplay, along with everyone else, could access the song. Though Satriani has been nominated many times for Grammy awards, this album nor this song was nominated. Coldplay may or may not have heard “If I Could Fly” before working on “Viva la Vida.” This one is tougher to prove. www.educateIP.org
Factor #3: Satriani must prove that Coldplay’s song “Viva la Vida” is substantially similar to Satriani’s song “If I Could Fly.” It means, “are they a lot alike,” right? This is the most important factor in this case…yet, it is hard to define what “substantially similar” really means. Right…but what do you mean by “a lot”? www.educateIP.org
According to copyright law, to determine “substantial similarity,” we have to consider: The “ total look and feel ” of both works. What the immediate reaction is when hearing/seeing both. The complexity of the sections that are similar. You stole my L. What? It’s an L…just a regular L! Hey. You stole my a. Uh, no I didn’t. www.educateIP.org
www.educateIP.org Play Based on what you now know about copyright law, is “Viva la Vida” substantially similar to “If I Could Fly?” Take another listen to the two songs. (Coldplay’s song is first, then Satriani’s song will play.)
Now, you’ll have to think about this issue: www.educateIP.org (Coldplay’s song is first, then Satriani’s song will play.) Is “Viva la Vida” substantially similar to “If I Could Fly”?
As Coldplay’s attorney, you need to decide: Should we go to court and have a trial to decide if copyright law was violated? Or, should we try to settle the case out of court with Satriani’s lawyers? Consider the options: Settle the Case A jury will decide. All we can do is present our case. If we lose, we might have large damages to pay. The media will follow the trial. Great if we win, not so good if we don’t. A trial could take a long time and make it hard to tour or produce new music. If we win, it proves we didn’t steal the song. The lawyers do this, not a judge or jury. We have more control of the outcome – money, time, reputation. We can work with Satriani and his lawyer to decide what is shared with the media. Neither side will be able to prove publicly who was right. Go to Trial www.educateIP.org
Write a letter to the members of Coldplay giving them your best advice. In your letter, share your thoughts about whether or not you think Satriani can prove that Colplay copied his song. Also, explain why you think they should go to trial or settle the case. Remember, for Satriani to win in court, he must prove all of these things: 1. He owns the copyright to the song. 2. Coldplay had access to Satriani’s song. 3. Coldplay’s song “Viva la Vida” is substantially similar to Satriani’s song “If I Could Fly.” Law Firm CONFIDENTIAL Dear… www.educateIP.org
www.educateIP.org What really happened? The terms of the settlement are sealed. In 2009, lawyers for Coldplay and Satriani settled the case out of court.
What do you think? <ul><li>What advice did you give? Trial or Settle? How did you come to this decision? </li></ul>Whether you were going to settle the case or go to trial, what arguments did you find for Coldplay? For Satriani? Why do you think laws protecting intellectual property exist? Do you think they should exist? Why or why not? www.educateIP.org
This project is a collaborative effort of Street Law, Inc. and Constitutional Rights Foundation. Educating to Protect Intellectual Property (ePIP) is funded by grant 2009-BE-BX-0001 from the United States Patent & Trademark Office and supported by the United States Department of Justice. Developed by Marshall Croddy, Bill Hayes, Damon Huss, Laura Wesley Written by Bill Hayes www.educateIP.org Edited and Produced by Keri Doggett, Laura Wesley, Andrew Costly
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