Madonna Wins Appeal in Pasadena Courtroom

Published : Monday, June 6, 2016 | 4:50 PM

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Pasadena has ruled that Madonna did not infringe on copyright and her producer did not copy a small segment of horns in her song “Vogue” from another song.

Plaintiff VMG Salsoul LLC had alleged that one of the song’s producers, Shep Pettibone, used the segment from another song he had recorded for VMG.

A Reuters report said the court last Thursday ruled 2-1 that the 0.23-second horns snippet wouldn’t be recognizable to the general public as hailing from the song “Love Break.”

VMG Salsoul LLC holds the copyright for “Love Break.” In the suit, it claimed Pettibone sampled the horn hit from that song and used it in “Vogue.”

Defendants included Madonna, Pettibone and Warner Bros.

Writing for the majority, Circuit Judge Susan Graber cited the defendants at most copied “a quarter-note single horn hit.”

“A reasonable jury could not conclude that an average audience would recognize an appropriation of the ‘Love Break’ composition,” Graber wrote.

The ruling could now make sampling short portions of songs more feasible for artists without having to fear legal repercussions.

The Hollywood Reporter points out that the decision was in contradiction of a 2006 case presented in the 6th Circuit (Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee), which involved an N.W.A song that sampled a riff from Funkadelic. The judge at the time had said producers should get a license or else avoid sampling any piece of a song.



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