May 10, 2007 · Lessig
Brian Transeau, aka BT, is a well known electronic, or “trance musician,” as Wikipedia puts it. More than a year ago, his lawyer contacted me about a lawsuit that BT was defendant in. BT was alleged to have “copied” a 9 second drum track in a recording that was used in an advertisement. BT had not copied anything. Moreover, the drum beat was totally generic, and not, BT argued, subject to copyright protection at all.
We don’t usually get involved in cases involving famous artists. But after more than a year in litigation, this (totally bogus) case had become too much. We therefore took the case to defend this creator’s right to create, rather than see him forced to cave to these groundless claims by a litigation happy plaintiff (he had done this to others before). Musicians, especially using electronic technology, need to be free to create without basic sound patterns being used as tools of litigation extortion.
Yesterday, the district court finally dismissed the case. After an extensive period of discovery, and expert testimony, the Court found that plaintiff had no credible evidence that BT copied the 9 second drum beat.
BT: “[The plaintiff] attacked my integrity as an artist. It’s very satisfying to be vindicated by the Court, and reassuring to know there are organizations and lawyers out there who are willing to donate their time to help artists protect themselves and their work.”
You can read the opinion here.
Thanks to the lawyers at CIS who made this happen, and also to the fantastic lawyers at Kirkland and Ellis who were also volunteers in this case.