In the News
The Hollywood Reporter, Billboard, Fast Company and The Tennessean Report on Richard Busch’s Third Lawsuit Filed Against Spotify
As published in The Hollywood Reporter, Billboard, Fast Company, The Tennessean and others, Partner Richard Busch has filed a third lawsuit against Spotify, alleging copyright infringement on behalf of seven independent music publishers. The complaint alleges that Spotify had been using their songs without the necessary licenses, ramping up the legal battle with the streaming giant.
Busch emphasizes that Spotify is an interactive service even by its own admission. Under copyright law, that has special significance. "It is telling, and clearly intentional, that Spotify only cites authority relating to Pandora, Sirius XM Radio, and other non-interactive services, rather than interactive services such as Spotify," said Busch. "Numerous courts and other sources have specifically noted the distinction between Spotify’s interactive streaming service and other non-interactive services. ... While Pandora (or the other non-interactive services cited by Spotify in its Motion) may be able to get by on public performance licenses alone, the same cannot be said of Spotify and its interactive streaming service. Once this distinction is taken into account, one need not look further than the very case law cited by Defendant to realize where Defendant’s argument falls apart."
ABC Australia Interviews Richard Busch on Ed Sheeran, Tim McGraw and Faith Hill Copyright Infringement Lawsuit
Partner Richard Busch was interviewed by ABC Australia discussing his latest copyright infringement lawsuit against country superstars Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, as well as pop singer Ed Sheeran, for allegedly copying the song “The Rest of Our Life” from two Australian songwriters, Sean Carey and Beau Golden. The song was originally written by Carey and Golden for Australian country star Jasmine Rae.
“We don't take lightly the filing of a lawsuit against anyone,” said Busch. “Anyone we say who listens to it will be able to hear right away that the song, as we allege, is a complete copy.”
The lawsuit claims that “the copying is, in many instances, verbatim, note-for-note copying of original elements of the Song, and is obvious to the ordinary observer.” Carey and Golden are seeking $5 million in damages, as well as an injunction against the song, blocking its use.
Billboard Interviews Richard Busch on Being the Music Industry’s Most Feared Lawyer
As published in the Billboard article “On Eve of ‘Blurred Lines’ Appeal Hearing, Richard Busch is the Music Industry’s Most Feared Lawyer,” Partner Richard Busch discusses the “Blurred Lines” appeal and the case against streaming giant Spotify. Busch represents two of Marvin Gaye’s children in the “Blurred Lines” lawsuit against Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke for infringing on Marvin Gaye's "Got to Give It Up" to create "Blurred Lines." The 9th Circuit decision could set a landmark precedent on the line between originality and infringement in musical compositions.
“I disagree with people who say this case is an outlier,” Busch said. “This is a strong case involving compositional elements and the fundamentals of what makes a strong infringement case. I can’t tell you how many people have come to me saying someone copied their song.”
In his lawsuits against Spotify, Busch alleges that the streaming company didn’t pay the proper mechanical royalties on the compositions the publishers owned. Spotify has filed a motion to argue that it doesn’t have to pay mechanical royalties. “I don’t think that making a streaming service like Spotify liable for infringement is going to do anything but make sure that in the future companies follow the law,” Busch added.
Billboard Names Richard Busch to Top Music Lawyers List of 2017
Partner Richard Busch was named to Billboard’s 2017 Top Music Lawyers list for his tireless work protecting artists against copyright infringement issues. Billboard’s Top Music Lawyer list recognizes the best legal minds on the forefront of copyright fights and superstar deals.
Busch, who has been ranked by Billboard in the past, is known for representing the family of Marvin Gaye against Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke in the “Blurred Lines” case, as well as Martin Harrington and Thomas Leonard, two songwriters who are now credited with writing Ed Sheeran’s hit song “Photograph.” The magazine notes that his work has made him the go-to lawyer for songwriting infringement cases.
"I don’t have partners representing the labels," said Busch. "My clients know that they have my full loyalty."
The Hollywood Reporter, Engadget, Fast Company, The Tennessean and AppleInsider Discuss Partner Richard Busch’s Lawsuits Filed Against Spotify
As published in The Hollywood Reporter, Engadget, Fast Company, The Tennessean, AppleInsider and more, Partner Richard Busch has filed two lawsuits on behalf of Robert Gaudio and Bluewater Music Services for the alleged copyright infringement of their songs by online music streaming service Spotify.
Gaudio, best known as the publisher and songwriter for the band Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, and Bluewater Music Services, which manages the streaming rights of artists, such as Miranda Lambert and Blake Shelton, allege that their compositions are being streamed on Spotify without proper licensing. Together, the suits involve a few thousand song compositions, which could add up to damages in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
"As we say in the Complaint, songwriters and publishers should not have to work this hard to get paid, or have their life work properly licensed, and companies should not be allowed to build businesses on the concept of infringe now and ask questions later. We look forward to litigating these cases,” said Busch.
The two lawsuits seek a maximum $150,000 damages award for each infringed work. Bluewater's suit alleges infringement of 2,339 songs, while Gaudio claims 106 songs were posted to Spotify without proper licensing.
“Blurred Lines” Case Widely Publicized as 9th Circuit Hears Appellate Case
On October 6, 2017, the 9th Circuit heard oral arguments in the appeal of the “Blurred Lines” lawsuit, in which Partner Richard Busch represents two of Marvin Gaye's children, Nona Gaye and Frankie Gaye, against Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke. In 2015, a jury awarded the family $5.3 million in damages plus ongoing royalties. The appeal got the attention of the press and was widely publicized in The Hollywood Reporter, Law.com, Courthouse News, The Recorder, MyNewsLA.com and others.
Since sound recordings weren’t protected under copyright law before the mid-1970s, the Gaye family presented sheet music to prove copyright infringement instead of analysis of the original recording of “Got to Give It Up.” The 9th Circuit’s decision could set a landmark precedent on the line between originality and infringement in musical compositions.
“The trial was fair and the judgment should be affirmed,” said Busch. “But if a sequel is ordered, the Gaye family should be allowed to introduce as evidence the Motown recording of “Got to Give It Up” in order to show the extent of the infringement.”
Rolling Stone, Variety, Billboard, Fox News and The Daily Mail Discuss Richard Busch’s Lawsuit Against Ed Sheeran, Tim McGraw and Faith Hill
As published in Rolling Stone, Variety, Billboard, Fox News, The Daily Mail and several others, Partner Richard Busch is representing Australian songwriters Sean Carey and Beau Golden in a copyright infringement lawsuit against recording superstars Tim McGraw, Faith Hill and Ed Sheeran. The song “The Rest Our Life” is a direct copy of Carey and Golden’s “When I Found You,” the complaint alleges.
“The copying is, in many instances, verbatim, note-for-note copying of original elements of the Song, and is obvious to the ordinary observer,” states the complaint.
Carey and Golden assert that Sony Music Entertainment, the parent label of Arista Nashville, which released McGraw and Hill's first-ever collaborative LP last November, was aware of the copying of their song. "It very well may have been an agent of Sony Music Entertainment who provided the other defendants herein with access to the Song," the complaint states. Carey and Golden are seeking injunctive relief and at least $5 million in actual damages plus profits, in addition to a running royalty and an award of attorney's fees and costs.
Lana Del Rey Probably Didn't Mean to Rip Off 'Creep,' But That Doesn't Matter:
Billboard Turns to Prominent Entertainment Lawyer Richard Busch
In the Billboard article “Lana Del Rey Probably Didn't Mean to Rip Off 'Creep,' But That Doesn't Matter,” reporters turned to Partner Richard Busch to discuss the potential lawsuit that could be brought against Lana Del Rey for the supposed infringement of Radiohead’s “Creep” in her song “Lust for Life.” Radiohead's publishing company, Warner/Chappell, has denied any lawsuit has been filed but confirmed the two artists are in discussions.
"Intent is not an element to prove copyright infringement, and subconscious copying is nonetheless copying that gives rise to liability," said Busch. “While independent creation is an affirmative defense, which if proven by the defendant can be a complete defense, the more access to the infringed work that is shown, and the greater the substantial similarity between the two works, the more difficult — if not impossible — that defense becomes.”
Access is often key to copyright infringement suits, requiring proof that the defendant knew the plaintiff's work. In some cases that unknown acts bring against superstars, that's easy to prove. But in a case such as this, given the success of "Creep," a song so popular Radiohead is known for refusing to perform it, it would be more difficult.
Spotify's Uncertain Road Ahead: Legal Battles, Profit Pressures Loom as It Moves to Go Public – Billboard Interviews Richard Busch
Partner Richard Busch was quoted in the Billboard article, “Spotify's Uncertain Road Ahead: Legal Battles, Profit Pressures Loom as It Moves to Go Public,” discussing the latest copyright infringement lawsuit filed against Spotify by Wixen Publishing and Spotify’s secret IPO filing this past December.
“We are prepared to litigate this to the end,” Busch stated regarding his three lawsuits currently filed against Spotify.
The streaming service’s immediate problem is that the uncertainty created by these cases represents a dark cloud over its IPO, which gives it an incentive to settle. The plaintiffs, on the other hand, are in no hurry, which gives them more leverage. On-demand audio streaming now comprises the majority of audio consumption for the first time in history, capturing a 54 percent share in 2017, according to Nielsen Music.