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Loomis v. Cornish

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

September 2, 2016

Will Loomis, an individual, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
Jessica Cornish, PKA Jessie J., an individual; Universal Music Group, Inc., Delaware corporation Erroneously Sued As UMG Recordings, Inc.; Universal Republic Records, a division of UMG Recordings, Inc.,

          Argued and Submitted March 8, 2016 Pasadena, California

         Appeal from the United States District Court for the Central District of California Ronald S.W. Lew, District Judge, Presiding

          Michael Gross (argued), Michael Gross Law Office, St. Louis, Missouri, for Plaintiff-Appellant.

          Jeffrey M. Movit (argued) and Christine Lepera, Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp LLP, New York, New York; Elaine K. Kim, Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp LLP, Los Angeles, California; for Defendants-Appellees.

          Before: Richard R. Clifton, and Sandra S. Ikuta, Circuit Judges, and Frederic Block, [*] District Judge.

         SUMMARY[**]

         Copyright

         The panel affirmed the district court's summary judgment in favor of the defendants in a copyright infringement case.

         Will Loomis, composer of the song "Bright Red Chords, " alleged that the defendants stole a two-measure vocal melody and used it as the theme for the verse melody in their hit song "Domino." The panel held that Loomis did not put forth any potentially admissible evidence to establish that the Domino songwriters had access to Bright Red Chords, either on a chain-of-events theory or a widespread-dissemination theory. Accordingly, he failed to establish copyright infringement.

          OPINION

          CLIFTON, Circuit Judge

         Plaintiff Will Loomis is the composer of a song called "Bright Red Chords." He brought this lawsuit alleging that Defendant Jessica Cornish (publicly known as Jessie J) and a team of high-profile songwriters led by Lukasz Gottwald (publicly known as Dr. Luke) stole a two-measure vocal melody from Bright Red Chords and used it as the theme for the verse melody in their hit song "Domino." The district court granted the Defendants' motion for summary judgment, concluding that Loomis did not put forth any potentially admissible evidence to establish that the Domino songwriters had access to Bright Red Chords. We affirm.

         I. Background

         Loomis composed and recorded Bright Red Chords with his band, Loomis and the Lust, in Santa Barbara, California, in 2008, and thereafter obtained a copyright registration for the song by depositing a copy with the U.S. Copyright Office. Loomis then released Bright Red Chords on a 2009 album, Nagasha, and a 2010 album, Space Camp. He also created a music video for the song.

         Bright Red Chords was Nagasha's feature track and it garnered some attention in 2009 and 2010. For example, the Bright Red Chords video won the MTVU "Best Freshman" video award and was featured in Billboard Magazine. In addition, there was evidence presented that Bright Red Chords was distributed by Urban Outfitters as part of a corporate sampler CD and was played in a variety of name-brand clothing stores. MTV selected Loomis and the Lust as one of its best new ...


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