North Carolina song writer Timothy Arnett sued Alan Jackson for alleged copyright Infringement on October 27, 2016. He claimed that the legendary country star’s “Remember When” infringed Arnett’s song “Remember Me.”
Last August 14, 2017, the Court dismissed Arnett’s Lawsuit.
Arnett was required to show that Alan Jackson copied protected elements of his song to prove copyright infringement. The court required him to prove that Jackson had access to his song and Arnett lacked direct evidence of Jackson copying his song. As noted by the Court:
“To prove access, the plaintiff must show that the defendant had an opportunity to view or copy the work. A mere possibility that such an opportunity could have arisen will not suffice. Rather, it must be reasonably possible that the paths of the infringer and the infringed work crossed paths.”
The Court found that Arnett’s claims of access were inadequate. In particular, the Court noted that:
The allegation that Arnett’s song was present on internet was not sufficient to establish access; The allegation that copies of Arnett’s song were sold was not sufficient to establish access, particularly because Arnett didn’t allege that his song was a commercial success or even offer any estimate of the amount of copies sold; and The allegation that people who knew Jackson had access to the song was not sufficient to establish access because none of these people maintained a close relationship with Jackson-rather it is purely hypothetical that Jackson had contact with these individuals while creating “Remember When.”
Furthermore, the Court also found that Arnett’s claim that he could overcome an inability to establish access due to his allegation that the songs were ”strikingly similar” failed.
Under the “strikingly similar doctrine,” a court can infer access in cases “where the two works in question are so familiar as to create a high probability of copying and negate the reasonable possibility of independent creation.” in here, the Court found that the allegation of similarity in name between the two songs is insufficient. The Court concluded that:
Arnett’s allegations of striking similarity are speculative and do not nudge his claims into the realm of plausibly.
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