Key Takeaways

  • Copyright infringement is using a creative work without the owner’s consent. This can include copying, distributing, or adapting the work in any way.
  • Fair use is a legal defense that allows limited use of copyrighted material without permission.
  • Numerous high-profile copyright infringement cases exist.
  • Understanding copyright law is crucial for creators and consumers. It helps protect creativity while allowing fair use for commentary, criticism, and education.

Copyright infringement cases have been a persistent and prominent fixture in the public discourse for several decades.

As technological innovations advance at an unprecedented pace, the intricate issue of intellectual property rights assumes an increasingly convoluted form, thereby presenting a formidable challenge in safeguarding creative works.

In this article, we shall undertake a comprehensive exploration of the multifaceted concept of copyright infringement, delving into noteworthy instances of such violations, assessing their repercussions across diverse domains of society, and offering strategies for effectively avoiding infringement.

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What is Copyright Infringement?

Copyright infringement is an unlawful act whereby an individual uses a creative work without obtaining the proprietor’s consent.

This transgression violates the proprietor’s exclusive rights to govern the utilisation of their intellectual property and to benefit monetarily from it.

To illustrate, consider downloading and appropriating someone’s photograph from the internet and integrating it into your website without the owner’s authorisation; this constitutes copyright infringement.

One should be cognisant that copyright infringement is not limited to misappropriating another’s work and claiming it as one’s own. It also involves exploiting it in a manner that the owner has not sanctioned.

Therefore, it is imperative to obtain the copyright owner’s consent before utilising their creative work.

If one is uncertain whether or not the use of such a work is permitted, it is advisable to proceed with caution and abstain from using it entirely.

20 International Copyright Infringement Cases

Star Wars vs Battlestar Galactica

Back in 1977, science fiction fans had a lot to talk about.

This was the year that witnessed the launch of two blockbuster franchises, namely Star Wars and Battlestar Galactica, both of which promptly rose to eminence.

However, things became rather convoluted when Twentieth Century Fox mounted a lawsuit against Universal Studios, the producers of Battlestar Galactica, alleging copyright infringement.

Fox contended that Battlestar Galactica bore too close a resemblance to Star Wars and that their intellectual property was being duplicated.

Not one to take it lying down, Universal Studios filed its lawsuit against Fox. They claimed that Star Wars had stolen ideas from older media, like the 1972 film Silent Running.

After a two-year litigation process, the legal case concerning Battlestar Galactica was resolved in its favor.

However, the franchise as a whole wasn’t doing so well at the time. The original show had been canceled, and fans were more interested in the next Star Wars movie, The Empire Strikes Back.

Naruto vs Slater

Have you heard about the case involving Naruto the Macaque and photographer David Slater? It’s a pretty interesting story that affects both humans and animals.

One day, Slater was out taking photos of wildlife in a foreign reserve and left his camera unattended for a moment.

A crested macaque named Naruto stumbled upon a camera and began taking selfies, which gained widespread popularity on the internet.

Slater was excited about the photos and published them on the website Blurb, which caught the attention of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).

PETA argued that the monkey selfies violated Naruto’s authorship rights and filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Slater, Wildlife Personalities Ltd., and Blurb.

However, Slater didn’t back down and filed a motion to dismiss the case. The judge ultimately sided with Slater, finding that Naruto lacked standing under the Copyright Act.

It’s a fascinating case that shows just how complex copyright law can be, especially when it involves animals.

While Naruto may have taken the photos, the law ultimately determined that he didn’t have the legal standing to claim copyright ownership of them.

Suggested Reading: Who can claim copyright?

Starbucks vs Obsidian Group

In 2016, Starbucks filed a lawsuit against a competing coffee chain called Obsidian Group.

Starbucks claimed that Obsidian’s new drink, called the “Freddoccino,” was too similar to their own popular iced coffee, the “Frappuccino,” and that this violated Starbucks’ copyright.

Obsidian Group tried to resolve the issue by changing the name of their drink to “the Freddo,” but Starbucks was still not satisfied and continued with the lawsuit. As of mid-late 2022, the case has not yet been resolved.

copyright infringement court cases

Apple vs Microsoft

When Windows 2.0, a significant update to its original version, was released in 1988, Apple sued Microsoft shortly afterward.

Apple had charged Microsoft for stealing the graphical user interface (GUI) of their Macintosh OS without their permission or a license to do so. This is why this occurred.

However, it was later revealed that Apple had permitted Microsoft to use some design elements of the Macintosh GUI in Windows.

Unfortunately, Apple’s legal department was unaware of this agreement and proceeded with the lawsuit.

In 1989, the court sided with Microsoft, and despite Apple’s best efforts, the company was unable to overturn the ruling on appeal.

Further Reading: Apple vs Microsoft copyright case study

Gucci vs Guess

Gucci and Guess, two of the most well-known brands in the fashion business, got into a legal dispute in 2009 when Gucci claimed that Guess had infringed on several of its trademarks.

Gucci first sought $221 million in damages but only agreed to pay $4.1 million.

What caused that, then? According to the judge, Guci’s argument that it frequently sent cease-and-desist letters to different parties over the years had a fatal defect.

These organisations included large multinational enterprises as well as insignificant copycats and infringers.

Gucci’s defense team has been overworked due to economic constraints and the fact that the majority of their evidence was conjectural.

The Case of Dolls: Bratz vs Barbie

Carter Bryant worked for Mattel, the maker of Barbie dolls, and during his time there, he came up with the idea for Bratz dolls. He later sold the idea to MGA Entertainment, which launched the Bratz line of dolls in 2001.

Mattel sued both Bryant and MGA in 2008, claiming that Bryant’s idea for Bratz was developed while he was still employed by Mattel and, therefore, Mattel owned the intellectual property rights to the dolls.

MGA said that Mattel had used sneaky and unfair methods to try to stop Bratz from being successful, like spying on them and pretending to be their employees (via fake id cards) to get into their private showrooms.

The trial went on for several years, with MGA eventually winning and being awarded $170 million in damages. However, Mattel appealed the decision, and in the end, neither company received any compensation.

Robin Thicke & Pharrell Williams v. Marvin Gaye

Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams were sued by the estate of Marvin Gaye, who claimed that Thicke and Williams had stolen the “General vibe” and some percussive elements from Gaye’s song “Got to Give It Up” for their song “Blurred Lines”.

The court agreed with Gaye’s estate and ruled in their favor. Thicke and Williams had to pay $5.3 million in damages and agreed to pay a 50% royalty fee. This was one of the largest payouts in music copyright history.

Art Buchwald vs. Paramount: The Battle over Stolen Ideas and Unethical Payment Practices

In 1990, writer and comedian Art Buchwald filed a lawsuit against Paramount, alleging that they had taken ideas from one of his abandoned projects and used them for a movie.

Paramount argued that they paid their authors based on the film’s profit and that since the movie made no net profit despite grossing $288 million, they were not obligated to pay Buchwald.

The judge determined that the defendant’s payment method was unethical. The court ruled in favor of Buchwald, granting him $900,000 in damages.

Whitmill vs Warner Brothers

Despite the success of Hangover 2, its producer, Warner Brothers, faced a lawsuit from tattoo artist S. Victor Whitmill.

Whitmill accused them of using his unique tattoo design without permission in the movie and promotional materials.

Warner Brothers argued that their use of the design was protected by “fair use,” but Whitmill continued with the case.

He even sought a preliminary injunction to stop the movie from being released on time.

Although the judge rejected Whitmill’s injunction request, he acknowledged that Whitmill had a strong case and could proceed with the legal actions on other grounds.

In the end, an agreement was made privately, allowing the film to be released as planned and securing its place in comedy history.

Suggested Reading: Tattoo copyright infringement

Katy Perry vs Marcus Gray

Copyright infringement and the music industry often go hand in hand, leading to numerous high-profile cases.

One such case involves Katy Perry’s 2013 hit single “Dark Horse,” which achieved massive success, selling over 13 million copies worldwide, garnering billions of YouTube views, and winning prestigious awards.

However, in 2014, rapper Marcus Gray sued Katy, alleging that she had stolen the riff and beat from his song “Joyful Noise.”

Perry’s legal team argued that Gray’s claim was absurd and that he was attempting to claim ownership of fundamental musical elements, which could negatively impact all composers.

In 2019, the court awarded Gray damages of $2.78 million. However, in 2020, the verdict was overturned on appeal due to a lack of evidence to support the claim.

The Smartphone Patent Wars: Apple vs Samsung and Motorola

In 2010, Apple and Samsung were in a legal dispute over Samsung’s alleged infringement of Apple’s smartphone design patents.

The Android OS, created by Google and adopted by Samsung and other manufacturers, was Apple’s key rival rather than Samsung itself.

Due to an agreement between Samsung and Google, Google’s legal team also had to get involved in the case.

At the same time, Motorola filed a lawsuit against Apple, accusing it of infringing on its patents related to 3G technology and smartphone design. Apple responded by saying that Motorola had infringed on its patents too.

The case became so complicated that the court dismissed it three times in 2012 because neither side had enough clear evidence. The court suggested that they settle out of court instead. In the same year, Google purchased Motorola.

Although Apple has never directly attacked Google, it appears to be targeting third-party companies that use Google’s software products. However, Google seems determined to defend its popular mobile software.

Viacom vs. YouTube

Back in 2007, Viacom, a media company, sued YouTube, a website where people can share videos, for $1 billion.

Viacom said that YouTube lets people upload more than 150,000 videos of their TV shows and other copyrighted stuff without asking for permission.

Viacom accused YouTube of “brazen” copyright infringement.

Since they are only an online service provider, YouTube claimed that they are not legally liable for content that violates the rights of third parties.

The case hinged on whether YouTube was responsible for the content on its site or not.

The judge overseeing the case ordered YouTube to hand over their internal communications logs and transcripts to Viacom for review to see if they knew about the copyrighted content.

However, Viacom made a significant mistake. As part of a guerilla marketing campaign, Viacom hired 18 advertising firms to create “unofficial accounts” and upload content as random users before the trial began.

They did not keep track of which accounts were theirs.

This blunder hurt Viacom’s case. They ended up suing third-party accounts that they had uploaded themselves, without realising it.

YouTube argued that they could not remove accounts without knowing if they were owned by Viacom, and it was unreasonable to do so.

As YouTube had no way of identifying which accounts were violating copyrights, they were powerless to do anything about it.

As a result, the judge ultimately sided with YouTube, ruling that they were not responsible for the copyrighted content on their site. This decision potentially spared YouTube from paying $1 billion to Viacom.

The Associated Press vs. Fairey

The “Hope” poster was designed by Shepard Fairey in 2008 during President Obama’s first presidential campaign. Fairey is a well-known street artist.

This poster quickly became a recognisable symbol of the campaign.

Although Fairey’s design was not officially endorsed by the campaign, it had its approval.

In January 2009, the Associated Press revealed that the photograph used as a reference for Fairey’s poster was taken by AP freelancer Mannie Garcia.

The AP demanded compensation for the use of the photo in Fairey’s work. Fairey claimed that his use of the photo fell under fair use and didn’t decrease the value of the original photo.

In January 2011, the artist and the AP reached a private settlement that entailed dividing the profits from the artwork.

Relatable article: Artist copyright infringement cases

Mathew vs. Walt Disney

Mathew, the person suing, claimed that Disney stole the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise from him.

Disney defended itself by showing old theme park art that came before Mathew’s work, proving they had independently created the unique supernatural elements in the franchise.

These elements involve pirates turning into living skeletons under moonlight due to a terrible curse.

Disney successfully demonstrated that it possessed the initial copyright for Pirates of the Caribbean in the legal proceedings.

This was not the first time someone sued Disney over the franchise.

After dropping his second lawsuit, Mathew signed an agreement promising not to bring any more copyright claims against Disney. However, he still filed the current lawsuit.

This situation suggests that the agreement wasn’t taken seriously by the artist and raises concerns about how Disney deals with artists, potentially impacting future collaborations.

cases involving copyright infringement

Vanilla Ice vs. Queen and David Bowie: The Case of Unauthorised Sampling in “Ice Ice Baby

Unauthorised use of a portion of the bass lines from Queen and David Bowie’s “Under Pressure” was made in Vanilla Ice’s popular song “Ice Ice Baby.”

Queen and Bowie sued Vanilla Ice for copyright infringement, claiming that he used their song without permission.

Vanilla Ice argued that he had changed the bass lines a bit to make them unique, but this defense was not enough.

The case was settled out of court with an undisclosed amount of money paid to Queen and Bowie, and they were given songwriting credit for “Ice Ice Baby.”

Fogerty Wins Self-Plagiarism Lawsuit

This case revolves around John Fogerty. He was a musician and songwriter who used to be part of the band Creedence Clearwater Revival (CCR).

After leaving the band to pursue a solo career, Fogerty wrote and performed a song called “The Old Man Down the Road,” which was later sued by CCR’s record label, Fantasy Records, for allegedly plagiarising CCR’s “Run Through the Jungle.”

In the end, the judge ruled in favor of Fogerty, saying that he couldn’t plagiarise himself. Fogerty then filed a countersuit to recover the money he had spent on the case, which went all the way to the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court ruled in Fogerty’s favor, saying that the case went against the original intent of copyright law, which is to protect creativity and encourage new ideas.

Suggested Reading: Basic copyright law

The Rise and Fall of Napster: A Landmark Case in Music Copyright Infringement

In 1999, a young computer whiz named Shawn Fanning created software called Napster.

With Napster, people could easily share and download music files on the internet.

The music industry didn’t like this because people were sharing their music without permission.

In 2000, a famous drummer from Metallica, named Lars Ulrich, sued Napster for doing something called “copyright infringement.”

This was the first time a big artist sued a company that helped people share music, and it caused other big record labels (like A&M) to also sue Napster.

The plaintiffs accused Napster of vicarious copyright infringement, and in 2002, the company was found guilty. As a result, Napster had to shut down, apologise publicly, and pay up to $26 million in damages.

This incident caused many music fans to resent Metallica for their role in Napster’s demise, while others saw it as a turning point in the music industry’s relationship with digital technology.

Rogers vs. Koons

A photograph depicting a couple holding a series of puppies was captured by Art Rogers. He subsequently sold, for commercial purposes, cards and similar merchandise.

Artist Jeff Koons saw the picture while creating an exhibit on ordinary objects and used it to create statues, which he sold for a lot of money.

Rogers sued Koons for copyright infringement, and Koons claimed that it was a parody and therefore fair use.

The court decided that the two images were too similar and that most people could see that it was a copy.

Koons’ defense was deemed invalid as he had the option to utilise an alternative source for his statement instead of replicating Rogers’ work.

Koons had to pay a settlement to Rogers.

Disney vs. Emerson Elementary

In 2020, a PTA event was held at Berkeley’s Emerson Elementary School. At this event, the latest version of The Lion King was screened.

However, Disney’s licensing organisation, which represents the company’s copyrighted content, sent a notice to the school.

The notice stated that it was a copyright infringement and that the school had to pay a penalty of $250 for publicly screening the movie without a license.

This incident gained attention when the school started a crowdfunding campaign to collect such a huge amount.

After the incident, the Chief Executive Officer of Disney sent out a tweet apologising for the penalty. He also contributed to the crowdsourcing campaign.

This situation was problematic for Disney because their characters are mainly intended for children, and all their works are targeted towards them.

When an elementary school screens its movies for children who can’t afford to watch them in theaters, and Disney hits them with a notice, it creates bad publicity for the company.

This could damage their reputation, especially among their target audience. It made Disney look bad because they make movies for children, but then they made a school pay for showing one of their movies to children.

Suggested Reading: Disney copyright infringement

Modern Dog Design vs. Target Corporation

This is the case of Modern Dog Designs, whose graphic design was unlawfully appropriated by Target and Disney.

Designers should encourage free and open competition and respect copyrights, trademarks, and other intellectual property, according to the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA).

Both businesses are being sued by Modern Dog for copyright violations and plagiarism.

The moral conundrum, where the stealing of the design is judged unethical, is analysed using the virtue theory.

The discussion of the stakeholders impacted by the violation of ethical design use includes the Modern Dog employees, the unfavorable press that Target received, and the effect on Target’s stock price.

All twenty-six dog graphics included in Modern Dog were given extensive copyright protection as a result of the lawsuit’s verdict.

The case establishes a precedent for small design firms to defend their rights and moral principles if any business, no matter how big or little, tries to steal their work.

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3 Cases Of Copyright Violation in India

RG Anand v Delux Films & Ors

In a court case called RG Anand v Delux Films & Ors, the person who made a play called ‘Hum Hindustani’ said that the people who made the movie ‘New Delhi’ copied his play.

He said that they were both about the same idea of “provincialism”. But the court said that copyright only protects how the idea is expressed, not the idea itself.

The court also said that if two things look very similar to an average person, then it might be considered an infringement. However, in this case, the court decided that the play and the movie did not look similar at all.

Krishna Kishore Singh vs. Sarla A. Saraogi & Ors., High Court of Delhi

The case of Krishna Kishore Singh vs. Sarla A. Saraogi & Ors. was heard in the High Court of Delhi and involved a request for an interim injunction against the release of films related to Sushant Singh Rajput (SSR).

The plaintiff, SSR’s father, argued that films such as ‘NYAY The Justice,’ ‘Suicide or Murder,’ and ‘Shashank’ violated publicity and privacy rights, the right to a fair trial, and Article 21 of the Constitution.

However, the Court found that the plaintiff failed to make a valid case for violation of celebrity or publicity rights, as the films had appropriate disclaimers and did not use SSR’s image or name.

The Court also noted that celebrity rights may not continue after the celebrity’s death and that the use of public record facts may not result in liability for the defendants.

In addition, the Court stated that a case of defamation is only speculative without access to defamatory content.

movie case of copyright infringement

Furthermore, the Court found that freedom of expression prevails over Article 21 for public record information and denied the injunction while requesting the defendants to provide an account of any damages that may be compensated.

Sony Pictures Network India Pvt. Ltd. vs. And Ors., High Court of Delhi

This case involves a suit filed by Sony Pictures Network India Pvt. Ltd. against various defendants, seeking a permanent injunction against the unauthorised reproduction, distribution, broadcasting, and other similar activities related to the cricket matches between India’s tours of England and Sri Lanka.

During the course of the proceedings, Sony Pictures also requested an interim injunction with similar reliefs.

The Delhi High Court granted an interim injunction in favor of Sony Pictures, which prohibited certain websites, their redirects, mirrors, and alpha-numeric versions from reproducing, broadcasting, making available, communicating to the public, or distributing the cricket matches.

The Court also issued a dynamic injunction against rogue websites that may engage in such activities.

To prevent copyright infringement, the Court directed ISPs to block the mentioned and other rogue websites and requested that the Government of India to provide appropriate directions.

The interim injunction also covered MSOs and cable operators, and local commissioners were appointed to monitor and take action against any violations of the Court’s orders.

The Court’s orders primarily aimed to protect the copyrights held by Sony Pictures while still permitting non-infringing and fair uses of the content related to the cricket matches between India and England/Sri Lanka.

3 Literary Copyright Infringement Cases

Gopal Das vs. Jagannath Prasad & Anr

Gopal Das and Jagannath Prasad & Anr went to court because they had both written books on the same topic, but Gopal Das claimed that Jagannath Prasad had copied his work since Jagannath’s book was published three years after Gopal Das’s.

Jagannath argued that they had both used the same sources and only the idea was the same, which cannot be protected by copyright.

However, the court found that not only was the idea copied, but also the way it was expressed in the book, including the layout and sequence of the text.

Therefore, the court upheld the decision that Jagannath had infringed on Gopal Das’s copyright and ordered him to pay damages.

E.M. Forster & Ors. vs. A.N. Parasuram – Madras High Court

Literary copyright violation cases


In this case, an appeal was filed against a trial court’s judgment that determined no copyright infringement had occurred.

The plaintiff, an author, had written a book that was subsequently chosen as a textbook for matriculation exams.

The defendant then published a guidebook aimed at simplifying the content of the textbook for students.

Consequently, the plaintiff sued the defendant for copyright infringement, alleging that the defendant had copied portions of the plaintiff’s book.

The decision of the Court

The court carefully examined both books and discovered that although the defendant had utilised some sections of the plaintiff’s work, they had also added numerous new elements.

These new elements included the defendant’s interpretations and explanations of the original text, which significantly differentiated the guidebook from the plaintiff’s book.

The court ruled that the defendant’s work was a product of their independent creative thought.

The court emphasised that copyright protection should not be employed as a means to stifle the creation of new literary works.

As a result, the trial court’s decision was upheld, and the defendant’s guidebook was not found to infringe on the plaintiff’s copyright.

Chancellor Masters & Scholars vs. Narendra Publishing House – Delhi High Court


In this case, the plaintiff published a mathematics textbook aimed at school students. Subsequently, the defendant released their mathematics guidebook.

The plaintiff sought to stop the distribution of the guidebook, arguing that it was a copy of their work and that they held copyright over the original questions, answers, explanations, etc. presented in their book.

The defendant countered by asserting that this case fell under the ‘fair use’ defense provided by the Indian Copyright Act.

The decision of the Court

The court, in its decision, examined whether the purpose served by both works was the same.

It found that the plaintiff’s work included elements such as theoretical explanations that were absent in the defendant’s work.

Conversely, the defendant’s work provided a step-by-step guide on how to reach the answers to the questions, which was not available in the plaintiff’s work.

Given the significant differences in the purpose and manner of use for both works, the court determined that the defendant’s work was ‘transformative’ and could not be considered a replication of the plaintiff’s work.

Consequently, the court ruled that there was no copyright infringement in this case.

Related Article: Transformative copyright

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Media Copyright Infringement Cases

Newspapers Win Copyright Case Against Website

This is a case that involves two newspapers, The Washington Post and The Los Angeles Times, and an independent website called Free Republic.

The newspapers claimed that Free Republic was posting their articles without permission, which was a violation of their copyrights.

The Free Republic argued that their posting of the articles, along with comments from users, was a “fair use” of copyrighted material.

They claimed that it allowed for discussion about how the media portrayed the news.

Courts Decision

The court ruled in favor of the newspapers, stating that Free Republic’s posting of news articles verbatim, even with added commentary, did not meet the requirements for a fair use defense.

The court also found that the newspapers’ work was mostly factual and not highly creative, so there was an argument for Free Republic’s fair use defense.

However, the court ultimately ruled that Free Republic’s use of the articles was not “transformative” and deprived the newspapers of the revenue they would have received for their archived articles.

Therefore, the court decided that Free Republic’s actions were a violation of the newspapers’ copyrights.

This case is important because it shows that even though news articles may contain factual information, they are still protected by copyright laws.

It also shows that fair use defenses are not always applicable, especially when the use of copyrighted material is not transformative and deprives the copyright owner of revenue.

Dainik Jagran Wins Copyright Infringement Case Against Telegram

Indian newspaper company Dainik Jagran recently won a legal battle against messaging app Telegram over copyright infringement.

Dainik Jagran had alleged that certain Telegram groups were sharing PDF copies of its newspaper, which had been downloaded for free from the company’s website.

Despite Dainik Jagran informing Telegram of the issue, the app took no action to remove the groups or stop the sharing of the newspaper.

The court found that Dainik Jagran’s copyright had been violated and issued an ad-interim injunction against Telegram.

Telegram was instructed to furnish details about the administrators and members of channels involved in the infringement and to remove such channels.

This case highlights the importance of respecting copyright laws and the rights of content creators.

It also shows that companies like Dainik Jagran have the legal tools to protect their intellectual property from infringement, even in the digital age.

Suggested Reading: Telegram copyright infringement

3 Music Cases of Copyright Infringement

music cases involving copyright infringement

Lana Del Rey vs Radiohead

In 2018, Lana Del Rey claimed that Radiohead was suing her over similarities between their 1992 song “Creep” and her song “Get Free” from her 2017 album “Lust for Life.”

However, Radiohead’s publishers denied taking legal action but requested credit for all writers of “Creep.” An analysis of the two songs revealed rare chord progressions and similar melodies, but the similarities were deemed unintentional.

During a Lollapalooza Brazil gig, Del Rey announced that the dispute was over and that she could now sing “Get Free” whenever she wanted.

Interestingly, Radiohead was previously accused of plagiarism due to similarities between “Creep” and The Hollies’ 1974 song “The Air That I Breathe.”

Radiohead ended up splitting royalties and co-writing credits with Albert Hammond and Mike Hazlewood.

The Chiffons vs. George Harrison

Facts: In 1970, George Harrison, a member of the Beatles, released his solo song “My Sweet Lord,” which became a hit and reached No. 1 on the charts.

However, the song was accused of bearing a striking resemblance to the 1962 hit song “He’s So Fine” by the Chiffons, written by Ronnie Mack.

Harrison’s manager, Alan Klein, attempted to purchase the rights to the original song from Bright Tunes Music Corporation, but they filed a plagiarism lawsuit in 1971, insisting on going to court.

The case took four years to go to trial.

Court’s Decision: In 1976, the court ruled that Harrison had access to the Chiffons’ song due to its widespread popularity, and although he may not have intentionally used it to create his version, he was guilty of “subconscious plagiarism.”

Harrison was ordered to pay $1,599,987 in damages in 1981, a significant amount at the time.

After purchasing Bright Tunes Music, Klein negotiated the sale of the song to Harrison, and the damages were eventually lowered to $587,000.

The case became a precedent for future copyright infringement lawsuits, establishing the concept of subconscious plagiarism as a valid form of infringement.

Chuck Berry vs. John Lennon


In 1969, John Lennon of the Beatles released a song called “Come Together” which was accused of being plagiarised from Chuck Berry’s 1956 hit “You Can’t Catch Me”.

Berry’s publisher, Big Seven Music, filed a lawsuit against Lennon’s publisher, Apple Records.

Berry claimed that Lennon had copied the lyrics and melody of his song and that Lennon had only slowed down the tempo and given it a funkier arrangement.

The lawsuit demanded an injunction to prevent further sale and broadcasting of the song and compensation for damages.

Courts decision:

The case was settled out of court for an undisclosed amount, and Lennon agreed to record three more songs from the Berry catalog on his next album as part of the settlement.

However, Lennon only recorded two songs, which led to a breach of contract lawsuit filed against him by Big Seven Music’s owner Morris Levy.

The court ruled that Lennon had indeed breached the contract, and ordered him to pay $6,795 in damages.

Later, Levy released some of Lennon’s demo recordings through Big Seven Music without permission, which resulted in Lennon, Capitol Records, and EMI being awarded $109,700 in lost royalties, and Lennon was granted $35,000 in compensation for damages.

The Impact of Copyright Violation Cases

In the Creative Industry

Copyright infringement court cases have a significant impact on the creative industry.

They serve as a reminder of the importance of protecting intellectual property and respecting the rights of creators.

These cases also highlight the need for clear and effective copyright laws to prevent the unauthorised use of creative works.

On the Economy

The economy can also be affected by copyright infringement cases.

When creators and copyright holders lose revenue due to infringement, it can lead to a reduction in investment in the creative industries. This, in turn, can hinder innovation and economic growth.

On the Legal System

Copyright infringement cases can place a significant burden on the legal system.

As technology continues to advance, the legal system must adapt to address new forms of infringement and ensure that creators’ rights are adequately protected.

This may require updates to existing laws and the development of new legal frameworks.


The examples of Copyright infringement cases serve as a reminder of the importance of respecting and protecting intellectual property rights.

By understanding copyright law, obtaining necessary permissions, and using copyright-free materials, individuals and businesses can avoid infringement and support the creative industries.

As technology continues to evolve, society must strike a balance between protecting creators’ rights and fostering innovation.

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What is copyright infringement?

Copyright infringement occurs when someone uses a copyrighted work without the permission of the copyright holder, such as copying, distributing, or creating derivative works.

What are some famous copyright infringement cases?

Notable copyright infringement cases include the Napster case, the Robin Thicke and Pharrell case, the Bratz and Barbie, and the Mathew and Walt Disney case.

What is the impact of copyright infringement lawsuit cases on the creative industry?

Copyright infringement cases serve as a reminder of the importance of protecting intellectual property and respecting creators’ rights, ensuring a healthy creative industry.

How can I avoid copyright infringement?

You can avoid copyright violation by understanding copyright law, obtaining necessary permissions from copyright holders, and using copyright-free materials.

What is the primary motivation behind registering for copyright protection, both for individuals and companies?

The main reason for individuals and companies to do copyright registration is to ensure that they have exclusive rights to their creative works and can profit from them without fear of copyright issues and violation.