December 15, 2015

In Tejano Case, Virtually Identical Opening Lines Of Song Does Not Mean Per Se Striking Similarity; 5th Cir.

Guzman v. Hacienda Records, No. 15-40927 (5th Cir. Dec. 14, 2015).

Affirming judgment after a bench trial, the Fifth Circuit held that the District Court did not err in finding lack of access to the song (despite radio play and live performances) and that the songs were not strikingly similar even though the first lines were virtually identical (because there was no evidence of uniqueness or complexity).  Applying the "clearly erroneous standard," the 5th Circuit declined to second guess the District Court's findings.

Default Judgment Entered In Grooveshark Case

Arista Records v. Tkach et al., No. 15-cv-3701 (SDNY Dec. 11, 2015).

The Court granted Plaintiff record companies a default judgment on their claims for copyright infringement, trademark counterfeiting, unfair competition, and cybersquatting claims based on the websites "" and "".  The plaintiffs had obtained a preliminary injunction, and the defendants did not respond to either the injunction or the complaint in any manner.  The Court entered a judgment permanently enjoining Defendants' use of the "Grooveshark" marks and the infringing domains.  Plaintiff UMG was also awarded $4 million for the trademark infringement, $400,000 for the cybersquatting, and statutory damages on the copyright claim of over $13 million.  Plaintiffs were also granted their attorney's fees, to be calculated on a later submission.