Infringement Action Against Lady Gaga Dismissed; No Substantial Similarity

Francescatti v. Germanotta; No. 11-cv-520 (N.D. Ill. June 17, 2014).

The Court granted defendant Lady Gaga's motion to dimiss the copyright infringement case over Gaga's song "Judas", even though the Court found that defendants had access to plaintiff's song "Juda," because no reasonable trier of fact could find that the songs are substantially similar.  With respect to access, the Court found that based on the nature and timing of a collaboration between Gaga and other defendants, a reasonable juror could find that there exists a nexus -- via a channel of communication -- between the parties and that therefore the defendants had an opportunity to hear the plaintiff's songs.  Accordingly, defendants were not entitled to summary judgment on that ground.  However, the Court found no substantial similarity.  First, the Court undertook an extensive analysis of whether expert testimony was necessary, or permissible, to determine similarity under the ordinary observer test.  The Court found that expert testimony was warranted because the songs are sufficiently complex, especially given the use of computer technology.  Second, the Court undertook the extrinsic-intrinsic test and held that the songs are substantially similar.  The songs do not share enough unique features to give rise to a breach of the duty not to copy another's work.

Gaga Dismissed From Copyright Case Because Indemnification And Contribution Not Available

Gaines v. Fusari, No. 2:11-cv-04433-WJM-MF (D.N.J. filed 05/08/13) [Doc. 85].

The Court granted third-party defendant Lady Gaga's motion to dismiss the third-party complaint.  Gaga and defendant co-own the copyright to a number of songs.  Plaintiff brought the action seeking a declaration that he is a co-author and co-producer of the songs.  After Plaintiff sued defendant, defendant brought third-party claims for indemnification and contribution against Gaga.  The Court found:
Fusari’s indemnification and contribution claims against Germanotta must be grounded in federal law. But neither federal statutory law nor federal common law provide causes of action for indemnification or contribution in Copyright Act cases. See, e.g., Pure Country Weavers, Inc. v. Bristar, Inc., 410 F. Supp. 2d 439, 448 (W.D.N.C. 2006) (no cause of action for indemnification in Copyright case); Arista Records, Inc. v. Flea World, Inc., 356 F. Supp. 2d 411, 416 (D.N.J. 2005) (no cause of action for contribution in Copyright case). Accordingly, the Court will DISMISS Counts I and II WITH PREJUDICE.

Lady Gaga Insurer Seeks Declaratory Judgment

Navigators Specialty Insurance Company v. Mermaid Music LLC; Stefani Joanne Germanotta; Team Love Child; Rob Fusari Productions LLC individually and in the right of Team Love Child LLC, Index No. 108996/2010 (Sup.Ct., N.Y. Co. filed 7/8/2010)

Plaintiff seeks a declaration that it is not required to defend and indemnify the insured, Stefani Germanotta (aka "Lady Gaga") in an underlying breach of contract action, on the basis of the policy's definition of "professional services." While the underlying complaint alleges breaches of a production agreement held between Germanotta and defendant Rob Fusari, none of these causes of action assert that the insured was negligent in the performance of music production, rendering the policy inapplicable to the claim.