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Apple's TV set top and its iTunes store are targets for artists

Apple may be in trouble with its Apple TV set top player and the iTunes store. Two lawsuits filed this week claim that Apple knowingly infringed on copyrights, one of which belongs to a Louis Psihoyos, an artistic photographer. The second suit is a civil complaint that claims Apple and pop star Avril Lavigne knowingly infringed on a song written in 1979.

One of the Apple TV's well known advertisements uses a visual representation of a "video wall," consisting of many small videos playing at once with an Apple TV box in the middle. According to the lawsuit which was filed in Boulder, Colorado, the similarity between Apple's video wall and Psihoyos’ photo is too close to be merely coincidence. In fact, Apple and Psihoyos had been in negotiations over the use of his photo or concept.

Unfortunately for Psihoyos, Apple never reached an agreement with him. Instead of developing another concept for its advertisements, the complaint noted that Apple went ahead and used Psihoyos' material anyway. Psihoyos' attorney Richard Kaudy wrote in the complaint that Apple knowingly ignored Psihoyos' "rights and feelings" and any profits that Apple generated from Psihoyos' work were kept for itself.

A separate civil complaint charges that Apple's iTunes music store is an acting catalyst for music infringement. According to the suit, Avril Lavigne's hit single "Girlfriend" is based on another song from the 1970's called "I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend" by James Gangwer and Tommy Dunbar. According to plaintiffs Gangwer and Dunbar, any company that sells and publishes Lavigne's song is infringing on their original work.

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Terrible Lawsuit
By tmp8000 on 7/5/2007 4:45:54 PM , Rating: 3
Suing Apple for Avril Lavigne stealing a song is freaking retarded. Sounds like a washed up group from the 70s is looking for a bigger payout than they deserve.

RE: Terrible Lawsuit
By Parhel on 7/5/2007 5:04:28 PM , Rating: 2
I would have to hear both songs to have an opinion on that. It wouldn't be the first time that an artist has stolen another's work and been sued for it. If she did, in fact, rip off their song, why would there be anything wrong with the lawsuit?

RE: Terrible Lawsuit
By Oregonian2 on 7/5/2007 5:05:43 PM , Rating: 2
Exactly! Pirating in another form. RIAA should be in favor of the suit.

RE: Terrible Lawsuit
By rcc on 7/5/2007 5:13:01 PM , Rating: 2
Only that it named Apple. Why not every music store that sells the CD, every radio station that plays it, etc.

RE: Terrible Lawsuit
By tmp8000 on 7/5/2007 5:17:12 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah that was my point, I've heard both songs and I do think they MAY have at least grounds for a settlement, her chorus sounds exactly like theirs. But naming Apple in the suit is so money hungry.

RE: Terrible Lawsuit
By Parhel on 7/5/2007 5:30:14 PM , Rating: 2
Sorry, I totally missed that. After rereading the post, your point was obvious. You're right, it doesn't make any sense to sue Apple, unless they also planned on sueing every record store that's every sold a copy.

RE: Terrible Lawsuit
By OrSin on 8/1/2007 12:12:11 PM , Rating: 1
Apple is being sued because the orginal artist was already sued and lost. You can no long buy the song anywhere but on Itunes, and maybe some record stores that sell used stuff. Apple probably just put all the song from his record up and didn't realize that one song was pulled. But if apple know and didnt care, then they are in trouble.

RE: Terrible Lawsuit
By glenn8 on 7/5/2007 5:18:35 PM , Rating: 2
What's wrong is they're suing Apple. Unless Apple owns the rights to Avril's song, it just doesn't make sense. But of course in sue-happy America you go after the one with the deepest pockets... so in a way it makes perfect sense.

RE: Terrible Lawsuit
By Locutus465 on 7/5/2007 5:52:08 PM , Rating: 2
Even if it infrindges, how is apple at fault? In this case the are not any different than a brick and morter cd store.

RE: Terrible Lawsuit
By Ajax9000 on 7/5/2007 9:41:39 PM , Rating: 2
I think the expression is:
"For every hit, a writ"

RE: Terrible Lawsuit
By retrospooty on 7/6/2007 10:35:13 AM , Rating: 3
"I would have to hear both songs to have an opinion on that. It wouldn't be the first time that an artist has stolen another's work and been sued for it."

for the sake of arguement lets assume it was stolen/copied... Why sue Apple? They have nothing to do with that.

RE: Terrible Lawsuit
By patentman on 7/5/2007 6:00:07 PM , Rating: 2
Why don't you read the Digital Millenium Copyright Act.

RE: Terrible Lawsuit
By kamel5547 on 7/5/07, Rating: -1
RE: Terrible Lawsuit
By someguy123 on 7/5/2007 7:20:12 PM , Rating: 5
maybe you should read the entire article before posting...

RE: Terrible Lawsuit
By otispunkmeyer on 7/6/2007 7:26:08 AM , Rating: 2
its like every song today isnt a cover/repeat/ripoff of something before hand

im suprised almost everyday when i suddenly hear the original song for something in the charts today.

will smith IMO was the biggest rip off lol...though he did change the words and jazz the tempo up.

getting jiggy with it = sister sledge, he's the greatest dancer.... and so on.

there is barely any original music today

RE: Terrible Lawsuit
By Spivonious on 7/6/2007 9:50:15 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah but rappers get the rights to use the other songs. See famous case where one didn't get the rights: Vanilla Ice using Queen's/Bowie's Under Pressure for Ice, Ice Baby.

Apple steals-
By giantpandaman2 on 7/5/2007 4:51:46 PM , Rating: 5
Here's a good visual summary of the evidence.

Personally I'm going to send the link to every creative type I know who swears that "Apple is amazing." Simply another company looking to make a buck, just like everyone else.

RE: Apple steals-
By Parhel on 7/5/2007 5:02:32 PM , Rating: 5
The whole situation sounds awfully familiar to what they did regarding using the name "iPhone."

RE: Apple steals-
By hubajube on 7/5/2007 5:16:22 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, that whole "lawsuit" thing sounds REAL familiar.

RE: Apple steals-
By akugami on 7/6/2007 4:17:40 AM , Rating: 1
There's a difference. The name iPhone has been used by different companies for a while and they put out actual products. That's a clear cut case of infringement.

The Avril Lavigne song is puzzling since any infringement would be on the part of Avril Lavigne (or if she didn't write it, whoever wrote the song). Even if she didn't write it she's at least partially responsible as the artist who sang the song. I do not see how Apple infringed and any monies due to the original artist whose song was copied would have to go through Avril Lavigne for whatever royalties are owed them.

For the video wall...when was the piece in question created? Let's face it, a collage of moving videos have been around for a long while. The earliest I can recall is from the Matrix but I wouldn't be surprised if there were others that predate it.

RE: Apple steals-
By SmokeRngs on 7/6/2007 10:03:12 AM , Rating: 1
Let's face it, a collage of moving videos have been around for a long while. The earliest I can recall is from the Matrix but I wouldn't be surprised if there were others that predate it.

I haven't seen the commercial in question concerning the video wall idea so I'm not exactly sure what this looks like. However, I would say the first video wall I saw was in an electronics store which included a number of TVs on display on shelves. I saw this long before The Matrix.

I highly doubt this example is the same concept so I'm not going to say Apple is in the right. Since Apple was in negotiations with the owner of the prior art, it's likely they are in the wrong on this.

As far as being sued for an Avril Levigne song, now that is hilarious. You go after the artist, not a store selling the song.

RE: Apple steals-
By glenn8 on 7/5/2007 5:23:57 PM , Rating: 3
I've never thought Apple was that creative, but I didn't know they were such talented thieves. Good stuff. :)

RE: Apple steals-
By Zandros on 7/5/2007 6:16:15 PM , Rating: 2
Great artists steal, as you may know.

RE: Apple steals-
By Ajax9000 on 7/5/2007 9:40:43 PM , Rating: 4
Taking from one source = plagiarism
Taking from multiple sources = "research"

Did Avril even write the song?
By SirLucius on 7/6/2007 1:54:12 AM , Rating: 2
Does Avril Lavigne even write her own music? Half of the pop artists today just sing lyrics written by somebody else for music written by somebody else.

It's funny that these guys are suing over a chorus copied from a 30+ year old song. I can list several bands that have blatantly ripped off entire songs from their contemporaries, and they aren't being sued. That's not to say that these guys don't have a right to be upset, I just find it amusing.

RE: Did Avril even write the song?
By omnicronx on 7/6/2007 10:18:05 AM , Rating: 2
Ya i doubt she does write her music, funny thing is this song has been out for how long before anyone noticed? no offense but if it takes 6 months before you realize someone blatantly stole your song there is something wrong with you. It just seems like a money grab if you ask me, or a sonic-coincidence.
On another note.. can anyone name a punk song that doesn't involve wanting to be your girlfriend/boyfriend / I LOVE YOU FOREVER... i think not.
I have heard much worse song plagiarisms in my lifetimes.. I still cant listen to any Oasis song without thinking.. "i wonder who they stole that one from" and dont get me started on bands like JET haha.

RE: Did Avril even write the song?
By bohhad on 7/9/2007 10:33:26 PM , Rating: 2
bands like the dead kennedys have written tons of punk songs, none of the about loving their girlfriends forever. i think you may be confusing todays 'pop' with yesterdays 'punk'

there's nothing remotely 'punk' about avril lavigne... or any other major label band today, for that matter. punk is dead :)

Songs are fair game.
By cochy on 7/5/2007 11:01:03 PM , Rating: 1
I'm pretty sure, and please correct me if I'm wrong, but anyone can do a cover of a song or sing lyrics from another song or use the musical notes without giving any credit to the original artist. For example, did Madonna have to give credit to Abba for using all their music in her most recent album? To be nice I think they might ask for permission but I don't think it's required. Again this is what I heard a while ago, I may be wrong.

RE: Songs are fair game.
By highlandsun on 7/6/2007 6:59:03 AM , Rating: 2
Not quite, but for anything that has been recorded, there is a compulsory license called a "mechanical license." This means that once you've recorded a song and distributed the recordings, any other artist can also record that song without your permission, but they still have to pay you a royalty for the use. The statutory rate used to be 6.6 cents per track, 10 years ago. I guess it's gone up a penny or two since then.

RE: Songs are fair game.
By Spivonious on 7/6/2007 9:54:57 AM , Rating: 2
Anyone can cover a song live and not pay royalties. In that case, the venue pays a general fee that covers this.

Anyone cannot record a cover. You must first get permission to do so from the owner of the song. Royalties are paid by the artist/record label in this case.

By Zelvek on 7/5/2007 8:29:58 PM , Rating: 2
One thing we need to take into account is that when trying to create something new it is very easy to subconsciously mimic something that is similar to what we want to create. One might have seen the original years ago and totally forgotten about it. Another thing that we need to consider is the idea of archetypes it is entirely possible that two people with no form of interaction could create almost identical things. I'm not saying that apple didn't steal (I'm actually a bit of an apple hater). What I am saying is that US (and other nations) I.P.laws are very dated. I.P. laws need major revisions based not only on our new technology but on our more advanced understanding of the human mind too.

RE: rehaul
By kenji4life on 7/5/2007 8:40:46 PM , Rating: 2
That may be true, however it's the responsibility of the record company to make sure that the content is original. Just like it's the responsibility of a publisher to make sure a book isn't plagiarized.

By VoodooChicken on 7/5/2007 5:44:22 PM , Rating: 3
Before Britney & JT & Christina, et al, the Mickey Mouse Club started a group called the Party. I never bought any of their music, but I remember they did a concert special, and the channel was endlessly plugging it. One clip had guy #3 of the quintet singing to a girl "Hey hey! You you! I wanna be your boyfriend" in the exact same manner as Avril's new song (girl for boy of course).
So Avril's hook definitely isn't original, but I have no idea about this 1979 song. Maybe the Party remade that song

Cue the violins!
By Houdani on 7/6/2007 11:35:38 AM , Rating: 2
Psihoyos' attorney Richard Kaudy wrote in the complaint that Apple knowingly ignored Psihoyos' "rights and feelings"...
Leave it to an artist to sue over hurt feelings.

Full disclosure: Am married to an artist. Oye.

Sounds quite similar
By jeromekwok on 7/6/2007 12:22:04 PM , Rating: 2
Watch this tube and you will see two songs have something in common. I think Avril just has got bad luck, rather than steal or something. Someone wants some money for retirement.

Tommy Dunbar
By noirsoft on 7/7/2007 11:27:39 AM , Rating: 2
I may be wrong, but one of the plaintiffs in the song case is probably the same Tommy Dunbar who worked on a lot of video game music, including some work on Star Control 2 and (my personal favorite) the very catchy opening theme from the classic C64 game "Archon"

No bearing on the merits of the lawsuit, of course, but he seemed like a cool guy back when I helped him with some computer problems back in the early 90s.

By Surak on 7/8/2007 4:03:31 PM , Rating: 2
If the Rubinoos get away with suing Avril Lavigne ... then the Rolling Stones need to swoop in and sue the Rubinoos. They used the 'Hey Hey You You' thing long before the Rubinoos ripped it off.

Avril's melody is very different, and it's only the chorus that bears any resemblance to to the Rubinoos song.


Hey Hey You You I don't like your girfriend!


Hey Hey You You I wanna be your boyfriend!

Rolling Stones:

Hey Hey You You get off of my cloud!

By Kinyo on 7/22/2007 8:22:40 AM , Rating: 2
To sum it up - they have awsome grounds for going after apple - itunes is listed part of the copyrite to the song - they have to in order to not be sued by the artist who made the song and the record label.

I would do the same thing. I wouldn't doubt that it was the original creater of the song's lawyer that suggested he can also sue apple/i-tunes. :D

"When an individual makes a copy of a song for himself, I suppose we can say he stole a song." -- Sony BMG attorney Jennifer Pariser

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