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Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music, Inc.
United States Supreme Court
510 U.S. 569 (1994)
In 1964 Roy Orbison and William Dees wrote the song “Oh, Pretty Woman,” and assigned their rights to Acuff-Rose Music, Inc. (Acuff-Rose) (plaintiff). In 1989 Luther Campbell and his group 2 Live Crew (defendants) wrote a song called “Pretty Woman,” in which the group intended, “through comical lyrics, to satirize the original work.” The 2 Live Crew song copied Orbison’s opening bass riff and first line of lyrics, but generally, the 2 Live Crew song replaced Orbison’s romantic lyrics with “degrading taunts, a bawdy demand for sex, and a sigh of relief for paternal responsibility.” The district court granted summary judgment to 2 Live Crew. The United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit (Sixth Circuit) reversed, finding that the 2 Live Crew song’s “blatantly commercial purpose” prevented it from being a fair use, and that 2 Live Crew copied too much of Orbison’s song to constitute fair use. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Souter, J.)
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