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Three Boys Music Corp. v. Bolton - 212 F.3d 477 (9th Cir. 2000)

Rule:

A copyright plaintiff must prove (1) ownership of the copyright; and (2) infringement - that the defendant copied protected elements of the plaintiff's work. Absent direct evidence of copying, proof of infringement involves fact-based showings that the defendant had "access" to the plaintiff's work and that the two works are "substantially similar."

Facts:

Plaintiff music corporation sued defendant singer and music producers for copyright infringement, alleging that the latter infringed on appellee's copyrighted song. Plaintiff’s singing group produced a 1964 song titled "Love Is A Wonderful Thing." The group received a copyright for the song. Defendant’s group wrote a song with the same title in 1990 and released it in 1991.

Issue:

Is there copyright infringement on the part of the defendants when they produced a song with the same title of a copyrighted song?

Answer:

Yes.

Conclusion:

The court affirmed the judgment of the lower court because substantial evidence supported the jury's verdict that plaintiff owned the copyright that  was allegedly infringed.  It was established that the defendants had access to plaintiff's copyrighted work and that the infringing work and defendants’ work were substantially similar.

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