No “amor” for copyright infringement claim about Tejano song

tejanoJose Guzman, writer of the Tejano song Triste Aventuerera, sued Hacienda Records, alleging that its affiliated band “The Hometown Boys” infringed his copyright with their song Cartas de Amor (link below).  The Fifth Circuit affirmed judgment for the defendants.  After reminding about the significant deference due to the trial court on credibility issues, the Court agreed that Guzman’s evidence about radio play and live performance was properly rejected as to the issue of the defendants’ “opportunity to view” his song.  Similarly, while acknowledging similarity in the first sixteen words of both songs, expert testimony showed that the words were set to different music and appeared in other songs as well, thus supporting the trial court’s rejection of his alternative “striking similarity” theory.  The Court also declined to adopt a “sliding scale” test for infringement that would be weighted by the degree of similarity between the works at issue.

 

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