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Repp v. Webber

132 F.3d 882 (1997), cert. denied 525 U.S. 815 (1998)

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Repp v. Webber

United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

132 F.3d 882 (1997), cert. denied 525 U.S. 815 (1998)

Facts

Ray Repp (plaintiff) was a professional composer and performer of liturgical music. In 1978, Repp wrote the song “Till You” and registered it with the United States Copyright Office and sold thousands of copies of the song recording and sheet music all over the world. Repp brought suit against Andrew Lloyd Webber (defendant) for infringement, claiming that Webber had access to “Till You” and copied it in writing “Phantom Song.” Webber was a renowned composer for stage production. Webber presented a declaration that he began composing “Phantom Song” at his home in England in late 1983, and later completed the song in 1984. Webber also asserted that he never heard of Repp or his music prior to his filing suit. Webber submitted the opinion of an expert musicologist who found that any similarities between “Till You” and “Phantom Song” resulted from Webber’s independent creation. Meanwhile, Repp submitted the opinion of two expert musicologists who both found that “Phantom Song” was based on “Till You” and, further, that both songs were so strikingly similarly as to preclude independent creation. The district court granted summary judgment to Webber after finding that Repp had failed to show that Webber had access to “Till You” prior to composing “Phantom Song.” The district court also rejected the opinions of Repp’s experts concerning the songs striking similarities and instead accepted Webber’s declaration of independent creation. Repp appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Miner, J.)

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