Martinez v. McGraw et al., No. 13-5796 (6th Cir. filed Sep. 15, 2014).
The 6th Circuit affirmed summary judgment in favor of defendants in a copyright-infringement action wherein Plaintiff alleged that Defendants infringed his musical composition Anytime, Anywhere
Amanda with the musical composition Everywhere by country-artist Tim McGraw. On appeal, the 6th Circuit found that the District Court applied the correct standard -- that defendant had an opportunity to access Plaintiff's song -- and that Plaintiff could not meet that standard. "There is no dispute that Anytime was never published or distributed, never received radio play, is not available on iTunes, has not been performed by third parties, and that Martinez performed the song only in South Texas. Defendants’ only possible access would have been through the demo tape Martinez gave to Tomac." The record, though, was devoid of any evidence that the demo tape had been passed along. "Martinez’s theories of access through third-party intermediaries fall short. The district court properly determined that Martinez presented only 'attenuated chains of hypothetical transmittals' in support of his claim that Defendants heard or had a reasonable opportunity to hear Anytime. See Patry on Copyright § 9:29. The chain of access vanishes after Tomac gave the lone demo tape to Bartley in the fall of 1996, and the hypothetical transmittals fail to support
a reasonable inference that any Defendant or associate of any Defendant received a copy of Anytime, much less that Wiseman or Reid, the alleged infringers, heard or had a reasonable opportunity to hear Anytime and copied it before they co-wrote Everywhere in November 1996." Lastly, there was no error because no evidence was presented that protectible elements of the two works are substantially similar.