Miami, FL Law Blog for Entertainment Law, Business Law, and Public Interest

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Polka singer files infringement lawsuit against ex-wife

By Pankaj Ladhar of Manos • Alwine P.L.

For songwriters the product of their craft is the music that they create. It is important to protect that product and block others from making money from work that is not their own. But there are times when songs may be similar but it does not necessarily constitute infringement of intellectual property. A recent news report talks about a polka musician who is accusing his ex and her current husband of copyright infringement for stealing a popular tune that he composed.
The man filed a lawsuit this week accusing his ex-wife of federal copyright infringement. He alleges that the woman and her current band stole the melody of his popular tune "Yodelin' Boy Polka" and wrote different lyrics to disguise the tune.
The musician wrote the song in 1978 and copyrighted it soon after. He performed the song with his then wife and their band until their 1984 divorce.

His former wife remarried and recorded a song titled "C'mon and Sing," which the musician claims is a copy of his song with the lyrics changed.

Her new husband admits that the melodies of the two songs are similar, but says that the lyrics are very different and the couple had no idea that they were copying her ex-husband's song. He says that they haven't played the song "C'mon and Sing" since receiving a letter from the musician's attorney. They also pulled their CDs that contain the song and they are no longer being sold.

The musician says that he wants them to publicly admit that they copied the song and is seeking unspecified damages in the lawsuit.

The musician claims that fans used to request "Yodelin' Boy Polka," every time their band played. He says that they must have performed the song together at least a thousand times. He doesn't believe that she didn't remember where the song was from. Throughout the years, the musician heard that the Top Notchmen, his ex-wife's band, had performed a song similar to his, but he didn't pay much attention to his ex-wife's musical career.

About 18 months ago, the man performed his song and an audience member said that he must have learned it from the Top Notchmen. He told her that he had written the song and decided to sue for copyright infringement.

Source: Star Tribune "Polka lawsuit: Wis. musician accuses ex-wife and her new husband of copying his popular tune" June 29, 2011

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