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Copyright Law: Appeals court sides with “Jersey Boys” producers

On Behalf of | Sep 19, 2020 | Copyright Law

The ins and outs of copyright law are sometimes difficult to understand. In the case of artistic works, it is often left up to attorneys and judges to determine what might constitute a violation of the law. One recent case that went all the way to an appellate court may have set a precedent for future copyright law cases when a judge decided to overturn a jury’s verdict. The case was in relation to the musical “Jersey Boys,” which ran here in New York for several years, and whether the work infringed on an unpublished autobiography of one of the members of The Four Seasons. 

According to the original suit, the wife of one of the members of The Four Seasons filed a civil claim over a decade ago. It is alleged that producers of the musical “Jersey Boys” had taken events detailed in her husband’s unpublished autobiography and depicted them in the musical. Copyright law is not meant to protect depictions of events that happen in real life. The plaintiff tried to claim that the events were embellished and therefore protected by copyright. 

Though a jury sided with her a few years ago, a judge recently overturned that verdict. The court said that since the events in the autobiography were presented as though they’d actually occurred, a copyright claim based on them couldn’t stand. Experts believe this case could have an impact upon future copyright cases involving certain non fiction works.

Whatever industry a creative professional works in here in New York, protecting creations through copyright law is imperative. If an artist is unsure whether his or her work qualifies for a copyright it may be helpful to discuss the matter with an experienced attorney. Artists of all types deserve peace of mind that they can maintain control over their creations and the legal system may be the best means to accomplish that.