On December 28, 2016, Prof. Hugh C. Hansen joined an amicus curiae brief submitted by the Institute for Intellectual Property and Social Justice; Musician and Composers; and Law, Music, and Business Professors in support of the appellee in the “Blurred Lines” case, Williams v. Gaye, 15-56880 (9th Cir.).  The appeal specifically concerns issues relating to the expert testimony of musicologists during the trial and what evidence the jury should have been allowed to consider, in particular, whether the jury should have been limited to only hearing an interpretation of the “lead sheet” ofMarvin Gaye’s “Got to Give it Up” deposited with the Copyright Office or permitted to hear the sound recording as well.  The brief advances policy arguments that the lower court decision “serves intellectual property social justice principles of access, inclusion, and empowerment” commenting that “[c]omposers not fluent in European staff notation, composers who work in aural traditions and genres . . ., and composers from disadvantaged backgrounds have routinely been discriminated against by a copyright system” that can at times privilege certain kinds of musical works over others. The brief’s principal authors are Sean M. O’Connor, Lateef Mtima, Steven D. Jamar (Institute for Intellectual Property and Social Justice). Read the full brief and list of amici here.

Fordham IP Institute