Faculty & Leadership Blog / Research and Practice

Law Professor Lester Comments On Latest “Sorry” Copyright Lawsuit Against Justin Bieber

This Spring pop singer Justin Bieber was sued by indie artist Casey Dienel for stealing an eight second clip from her song, “Ring the Bell”.

Commenting on the case, Babson Law Professor Toni Lester says:

“Dienel is alleging that Beiber illegally used a short four note ascending music motif lasting eight seconds from her song.  Most people seem to think it’s ok to use someone else’s copyrighted work if they only take a very small portion of it. But that’s what happened when the creator of the song, “A Hundred Miles and Running”, used a two-second sample from the famous opening guitar solo to the iconic Funkadelic song, “Get Off Your Ass and Jam”.  The newer work copied, looped and expanded the sample to seven seconds and repeated it a few times.  The court in that case said the use of those two seconds amounted to copyright infringement.  Some might think Dienel’s case is different, however, since the Funkadelic riff sounds so unique and innovative, whereas the Dienel clip seems to be similar to commonly used motifs in alot of songs.  So we’ll have to wait and see if courts think Dienel’s clips is as theft-proof as Funkadelics.”

Lester’s article on the controversial “Blurred Lines” case brought by Marvin Gaye’s estate against Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams, and her latest piece on copyright litigation involving Oprah Winfrey and Beyoncé can be found at http://www.ssrn.com/en/