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Fogerty v. Fantasy, Inc.

510 U.S. 517 (1994)

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Fogerty v. Fantasy, Inc.

United States Supreme Court

510 U.S. 517 (1994)

Facts

John Fogerty (defendant) was lead singer and songwriter of the band Creedence Clearwater Revival. In 1970, he wrote a song called “Run Through the Jungle” and sold the publishing rights to the predecessor of Fantasy, Incorporated (plaintiff), which later acquired the copyright to the song. Long after the band broke up, Fogerty published and copyrighted a song called “The Old Man Down the Road” on an album distributed by Warner Brothers Records, Inc. (Warner Brothers) (defendant). Fantasy sued Fogerty and Warner Brothers for copyright infringement, claiming “The Old Man Down the Road” was “Run Through the Jungle” with new words. After the jury found Fogerty had not infringed Fantasy’s copyright, Fogerty requested an award of attorney fees. The district court denied the request under the Ninth Circuit “dual standard” of awarding attorney fees for prevailing plaintiffs but not prevailing defendants unless the lawsuit was frivolous or brought with a vexatious purpose. Fogerty appealed, but the Ninth Circuit affirmed. Noting that other circuits applied the “even-handed” approach of granting attorney fees to either prevailing party without different standards, the Supreme Court granted Fogerty’s petition for review.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Rehnquist, C.J.)

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