December 1, 2023

Songwriters Sue to Defend a Summer Hit

That is the question at the heart of a lawsuit that Mr. Thicke and his co-writers, Pharrell Williams and Clifford Harris Jr. (better known as the rapper T.I.), filed in federal court on Thursday against Gaye’s three children. According to the suit, Mr. Thicke and his colleagues “reluctantly” went to court in order to protect their song from claims by the Gaye family — apparently made privately — that “Blurred Lines” copies “Got to Give It Up.”

“Representatives of the Gayes have recently notified plaintiffs that, if plaintiffs do not pay a monetary settlement of the Gayes’ claim, the Gayes intend to initiate litigation for copyright infringement,” says the suit, which was filed in United States District Court in Los Angeles and was first reported by The Hollywood Reporter.

Mr. Thicke and Mr. Williams have spoken about “Got to Give It Up” only as an inspiration for “Blurred Lines.”

“Pharrell and I were in the studio and I told him that one of my favorite songs of all time was Marvin Gaye’s ‘Got to Give It Up,’ ” Mr. Thicke said in an interview with GQ. He recalled that he told his partner, “We should make something like that, something with that groove.”

But suit contends that there is no foul. “Being reminiscent of a ‘sound’ is not copyright infringement,” it says.

“Blurred Lines” has sold more than four million copies in the United States, and its video has been viewed 138 million times on YouTube.

In addition to the Gaye family, the suit also names as a defendant Bridgeport Music, a publisher representing songs by George Clinton’s band Funkadelic. According to the suit, Bridgeport has also contended that “Blurred Lines” infringes on a Funkadelic song, “Sexy Ways.”

Mr. Clinton, who has a long history of his own disputes with Bridgeport, posted to Twitter in support of Mr. Thicke and Mr. Williams, saying there was “no sample” of Funkadelic in “Blurred Lines.”

A lawyer said to represent the Gayes as well as Bridgeport did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Article source:

Judge Rejects 3 Lawsuits Against Former Elmo Puppeteer

In his 28-page ruling, dated June 28 and made public Monday, Judge John G. Koeltl said the plaintiffs — Cecil Singleton, Kevin Kiadii and an unnamed man with the initials S.M. — filed their claims “more than six years after each plaintiff reasonably should have become aware of the defendant’s alleged violations” and more than three years after each turned 18.

The plaintiffs had argued that the time limit should begin once they realized they had been harmed, not the date of what they said was the abuse. But in his ruling, Judge Koeltl wrote, “The dates on which the plaintiffs connected their psychological injuries to their victimizations are irrelevant to the dates on which their claims accrued.” Even if the plaintiffs did not recognize the extent of their injuries, he wrote, “they were aware of the defendant’s conduct toward them and could have brought claims.”

Jeff Herman, a Miami lawyer who represented the plaintiffs, said they planned to appeal, adding in a statement that “we believe that the victims in this case are within the statute of limitations.”

Mr. Clash, who last month won three Daytime Emmy Awards for his “Sesame Street” work, resigned from the program in November when the accusations began surfacing. He was the voice of the character Elmo for nearly three decades.

In a statement, Mr. Clash’s lawyer, Michael G. Berger, said his client was pleased by the decision, calling it a step toward putting “these spurious claims behind him, so that Kevin can go about the business of reclaiming his personal life and his professional standing.” He added that Mr. Clash “is looking forward to a time in the near future when he can tell his story free of innuendo and false claims.”

A spokesman for Mr. Clash, Nicholas F. Peters of the CommCore Consulting Group, said the puppeteer was not giving interviews.

Another lawsuit from a plaintiff identified as D.O. was voluntarily withdrawn in April, and a fifth lawsuit, filed in Pennsylvania by Mr. Clash’s original accuser, Sheldon Stephens, remains outstanding.

Sesame Workshop said it had no comment on Judge Koeltl’s ruling.

Article source:

Common Sense: S.E.C.’s New Chief Promises Tougher Line on Cases

In a departure from long-established practice, the recently confirmed chairwoman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Mary Jo White, said this week that defendants would no longer be allowed to settle some cases while “neither admitting nor denying” wrongdoing.

“In the interest of public accountability, you need admissions” in some cases, Ms. White told me. “Defendants are going to have to own up to their conduct on the public record,” she said. “This will help with deterrence, and it’s a matter of strengthening our hand in terms of enforcement.”

In a memo to the S.E.C. enforcement staff announcing the new policy on Monday, the agency’s co-leaders of enforcement, Andrew Ceresney and George Canellos, said there might be cases that “justify requiring the defendant’s admission of allegations in our complaint or other acknowledgment of the alleged misconduct as part of any settlement.”

They added, “Should we determine that admissions or other acknowledgment of misconduct are critical, we would require such admissions or acknowledgment, or, if the defendants refuse, litigate the case.”

Ms. White said that most cases would still be settled under the prevailing “neither admit nor deny” standard, which, she said, has been effective at encouraging defendants to settle and speeding relief to victims.

The policy change follows years of criticism that the S.E.C. has been too lenient, especially with the large institutions that were at the center of the financial crisis. Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, Citigroup and JPMorgan Chase were among the defendants that settled charges related to the financial crisis while neither admitting nor denying guilt, although Goldman was required to admit that its marketing materials were incomplete.

That this approach became such a heated public issue is in large part because of the provocative efforts of Judge Jed S. Rakoff of Federal District Court, who has twice threatened to derail settlements with large financial institutions that neither admitted nor denied the government’s allegations.

In late 2011, he ruled that he couldn’t assess the fairness of the agency’s settlement with Citigroup in a complex mortgage case without knowing what, if anything, Citigroup had actually done. In his ruling, he said that settling with defendants who neither admit nor deny the allegations is a policy “hallowed by history but not by reason.”

He described the settlement, which was for $285 million, as “pocket change” for a giant bank like Citigroup. Other judges have followed Judge Rakoff’s lead, and an appeal of his Citigroup ruling is pending before the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

The new policy would seem to vindicate Judge Rakoff, at least in spirit, but Ms. White said the decision was rooted in her experience as United States attorney in New York, where defendants in criminal cases are almost always required either to enter a guilty plea or go to trial.

“Judge Rakoff and other judges put this issue more in the public eye, but it wasn’t his comments that precipitated the change,” she said. “I’ve lived with this issue for a very long time, and I decided it was something that we should review, and that could strengthen the S.E.C.’s enforcement hand.” (Judge Rakoff, who is presiding over a trial in Fresno, Calif., said he couldn’t comment, citing the appeal of his Citigroup ruling.)

Those concerned that Ms. White, who before her confirmation as chairwoman of the S.E.C. was head of the litigation department at the prominent corporate law firm Debevoise Plimpton, might be too cozy with the big banks and corporations that were formerly her clients, can breathe easier. Even some of the S.E.C.’s harshest critics were at least somewhat mollified.

“It’s an important step in the right direction,” said John Coffee, a professor at Columbia Law School and a vocal critic of S.E.C. settlements he deems too lenient. “There’s clearly a public hunger for accountability. Mary Jo White has shown she sensitive to this.”

Article source:

DealBook: Closing the Galleon Case

Closing arguments have begun in the insider trading case against Raj Rajaratnam, the billionaire co-founder of the Galleon Group hedge fund. DealBook spoke to some former prosecutors who have been watching the case, and their consensus is that the weight of evidence does not bode well for the defendant.

Richard L. Scheff, chairman of the Philadelphia-based law firm Montgomery, McCracken, Walker Rhoads, said that the prosecution needed to keep the focus on the details of transactions in its closing arguments.

Mr. Scheff also said that he found it “astounding” that the defense team did not disclose to the jury that a hedge fund formed by one of its key witnesses, Richard Schutte — a former president of Galleon Group — received more than $25 million in investments from Mr. Rajaratnam. That detail came out during cross-examination by the prosecution, and represented a potentially serious tactical error by Mr. Rajaratnam’s defense team.

Elliott H. Lutzker, a lawyer at the Manhattan firm Davidoff Malito Hutcher, noted that the prosecution “absolutely” established that Mr. Rajaratnam had access to “material, nonpublic information” — which forms the legal basis for any successful insider trading case.

The jury could begin deliberating as early as Thursday.

Article source:

Judge Denies an Effort at Removal in A.I.G. Case

Mr. Greenberg and his co-defendant, Howard Smith, A.I.G.’s former chief financial officer, said that Justice Charles E. Ramos of New York State Supreme Court should disqualify himself because he had made improper statements and relied on inadmissible evidence. Justice Ramos, however, denied the motion in a ruling released on Monday.

In the 2005 suit, the state accused Mr. Greenberg and Mr. Smith of using bogus transactions to distort A.I.G.’s reported financial condition.

On March 1, an appeals court delayed Justice Ramos’s plan to start a trial May 2 and said it would hear arguments in the case during its May term.

The motion was denied “in light of the appellate division stay of this trial pending appeal,” the judge wrote. “This motion may be renewed once the stay has expired.”

In their motion, lawyers for Mr. Greenberg and Mr. Smith argued that the judge had repeatedly demonstrated an “intention to use improper and inadmissible evidence in adjudication of the case.” At a hearing last April, Justice Ramos said the attorney general’s office had put together “a devastating case.”

The New York attorney general, Eric T. Schneiderman, said in court papers that the bias claim had been “manufactured.”

Article source: