Simpsons Solicitors

The moral of the story …

February 15th 2012

An interesting decision in the Federal Magistrates Court was handed down on 10 February 2012.

The case involved both copyright and moral rights in the song “Bon, Bon”, sung by a performer known as Pitbull. The case centred on a remixed version of the song which was then streamed from a website operated by a Mr Fernandez (who DJs under the name “DJ Suave”) .

The remix combined a recording of Pitbull singing the song with an “audio drop” along the lines of “Mr 305 and I am putting it down with DJ Suave”. This audio drop – which  had been recorded and  supplied by Pitbull so that Fernandez could promote a concert tour – was mixed into the song by Fernandez to replace a prominent part of the original Spanish lyrics.

The concert tour failed to proceed and is currently the subject of litigation between the parties in the NSW Supreme Court.

Federal Magistrate Driver noted how, by using the audio drop, Fernandez was both getting back at Pitbull for the failed tour and trying to trade off Pitbull’s reputation by suggesting a closer connection between the two than existed:

“in altering the sound recording of Bon, Bon to represent himself as a subject of the song and then prominently streaming it from his website, [Mr Fernandez] intended to cause [Pitbull] artistic, reputational and commercial harm as an act of retribution for the grievances he has for the failed tour, while at the same time leveraging off the infringement for the sake of self promotion.”

In the event, Driver FM:

awarded Pitbull and his related companies both compensatory and additional damages in the sum of $2,312 for the copyright infringement (based on licences that should have been obtained from APRA and PPCA); and
awarded Pitbull damages of $10,000 for the infringement of his moral rights in the song.

You can read the case at:

http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/cth/FMCA/2012/2.html

If you want information or advice on whether your moral rights or copyright have been infringed, contact Jules Munro (music lawyer), copyright lawyer Adam Simpson or Ian McDonald (Special Counsel, Copyright) at Simpsons Solicitors.