Usher and Sony Win Big in Copyright Dispute Over Hit Song


Singer-songwriter Usher and Sony Music Holdings, Inc. have won big in a copyright dispute over hit song “Bad Girl.”  According to Billboard, Usher and several others have been in the middle of a long-standing dispute over rights to the song.  Songwriter Dan V. Marino sued Usher (nee Usher Raymond IV) and nineteen other parties as defendants.  Marino alleged that his former songwriting partners, Dante Barton and William Guice, collaborated with him on the song “Bad Girl,” which had previously been known as “Club Girl.” Dante Barton later registered a copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office for the musical composition of the song (but not a recording of it) and only listed himself and William Guice as the authors.  The song was later marketed by a publishing agent and then ultimately re-recorded by Usher.  Marino received a lump sum payment, but was not credited as an author on the album.  Marino claimed that although he created the chord progression, melody, and tempo, his former partners failed to properly credit him, which amounted to copyright infringement.


Fortunately for Usher and Sony, the court disagreed.  Back in May, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania granted most of the defendants’ motion for summary judgment, finding that Usher, Sony and others had not done “anything wrong.” Then last month, Judge Paul S. Diamond awarded the defendants more than $1 million in attorneys’ fees, finding that, “Plaintiff’s claims for copyright infringement were objectively unreasonable both in fact and law.  Plaintiff chose to litigate his frivolous copyright infringement action in an abusive manner.”


Failing to hire an experienced attorney with sound knowledge of copyright laws can cost companies and individuals millions, as evidenced by the Marino case.  If you are part of a dispute with business competitors, like the one between Marino and his former songwriting partners, and have questions about your rights and obligations, you need an experienced Georgia business litigator.


Attorney James J. (“Jim”) Thomas II has more than 35 years of courtroom experience in the Atlanta area, and has represented professional athletes, teams, and leagues, as well as many other individuals and businesses. Jim is a business litigation and intellectual property litigation expert who can handle complex business litigation as well as analysis, evaluation, and resolution of existing and potential litigation including copyright infringement claims.  Give Jim a call at 404-869-5248 or visit online.

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