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JONES v. VIRGIN RECORDS

March 4, 1986

JIMMY JONES AND OTIS BLACKWELL, Plaintiff,
v.
VIRGIN RECORDS, LTD, EPIC RECORDS, a division of CBS, INC., VIRGIN MUSIC PUBLISHING LTD., WARNER TAMERLANE MUSIC, a division of WARNER COMMUNICATIONS, INC., and CBS CATALOGUE PARTNERSHIP, Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: LOWE

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

MARY JOHNSON LOWE, D.J.

 This copyright infringement action involves two of the most popular songs in recent years. The plaintiffs are the composers of the song "Handyman." They seek injunctive relief, actual damages, profits and reasonable attorney's fees and costs for the alleged infringement of the copyright in "Handyman" by marketing of the defendants' song "Karma Chameleon."

 Defendants move for summary judgment. For the reasons stated below, summary judgment is denied.

 BACKGROUND

 The plaintiffs, Jimmy Jones ("Jones") and Otis Blackwell ("Blackwell"), composed the song "Handyman" in 1959. In June of that year, Jones and Blackwell assigned their rights in this work to Shalimar Music Corporation ("Shalimar") and its successors and assigns expressly retaining the right to receive royalties.

 In September of 1959, Shalimar registered "Handyman" and filed sheet music of this revision ("1959 version") with the Copyright Office pursuant to the 1909 Copyright Act ("1959 registration"). Thereafter, Shalimar assigned its interest in the song and through a series of conveyances, the composition and the copyright therein were acquired and are currently owned by CBS Catalogue Partnership, a subsidiary of Catalogue Partnership, a subsidiary of CBS, Inc. Printed sheet music of the 1959 version was published in 1964 by Travis Music Company and in 1977 by United Music Publishing Group.

 In 1960, Jones recorded the song "Handyman" on phonorecords which were sold to the general public by Cub Records. This recorded version ("1960 version") of the song contained additional words and music not found in the 1959 version filed with the Copyright Office. The 1960 version achieved considerably popularity and was later recorded by Del Shannon in 1964 and James Taylor in 1977 with similar success. *fn1"

 The additional words and music included in all three recordings of the 1960 version consisted of an eight measure chorus consisting of the following words:

 
Come-a, come-a, come-a
 
Come-a, come-a, come-a
 
Yeah, Yeah, Yeah
 
Come-a, come-a, come-a
 
Come-a, come-a, come-a
 
They'll come running to me
 
Yeah, Yeah, Yeah
 
Yeah, Yeah, Yeah.

 It appears that the 1960 version was never reduced to printed sheet music. *fn2"

 The allegedly infringing song, "Karma Chameleon", was written and recorded by rock personality "Boy George" (George O'Dowd) and the members of his band, Culture Club, in 1983. By February of 1984, "Karma Chameleon" reached number one on the national charts.

 Plaintiffs content that the portion of the chorus which was added to the 1960 version of "Handyman" namely: "come-a, come-a, come-a, come-a" is infringed by the chorus of ...


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