June 2, 2016 (LOS ANGELES) – We represented Madonna,
Warner Bros. Records and WB Music in a lengthy copyright lawsuit,
culminating in the Ninth Circuit's affirmance of the dismissal
of plaintiff's sampling copyright infringement claim. The
lawsuit, VMG Salsoul, LLC v. Madonna Ciccone, et al.,
involved an alleged sample of a 1970's soul record in
Madonna's 1990 hit "Vogue," one of her best-known and
most iconic recordings.
By a 2-1 vote, a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals panel affirmed a district judge's 2013 ruling that the alleged use of a quarter-second "horn hit" from the Salsoul Orchestra's "Love Break" in several places in "Vogue" was too de minimis to amount to copyright infringement. We convinced the Ninth Circuit to reject a ten-year old Sixth Circuit decision that held there is no de minimis exception to the copying of any portion of a sound recording. The decision creates a rare circuit split in the area of copyright law and is likely to draw significant attention in the music industry and beyond.
Our team included Sandy Crawshaw-Sparks, Alexander Kaplan and Susan Gutierrez. Alexander Kaplan argued the appeal.
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