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Copeland v. Bieber

789 F.3d 484 (2015)

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Copeland v. Bieber

United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

789 F.3d 484 (2015)

Facts

Devin Copeland (plaintiff), a rhythm-and-blues (R & B) artist who performed as De Rico, wrote and copyrighted several songs for a planned album, including a track called “Somebody to Love.” Copeland then entered a professional relationship with Sangreel Media, a company that connected artists with major record labels. Copeland gave Sangreel Media copies of his songs so that Sangreel Media could give them to clients for promotional purposes. Usher Raymond IV (defendant), a popular R & B artist better known as simply Usher, was presented with promotional copies of Copeland’s music. Usher’s manager contacted Copeland to discuss plans for a collaboration, but these plans never materialized. A few months later, Usher posted a demo version of a song called “Somebody to Love” on his YouTube channel. The same song became a hit for Usher’s protégé, Justin Bieber (defendant). Copeland brought a copyright-infringement action against Usher, Bieber, and other associated parties, alleging that the popular Usher-Bieber “Somebody to Love” infringed his earlier song of the same name. Bieber and Usher moved to dismiss the action, and the motion was granted. Copeland appealed. The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit granted certiorari.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Harris, J.)

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