VMG Salsoul, LLC v. Ciccone

United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

824 F.3d 871 (9th Cir. 2016)

A finding of copyright infringement requires more than de minimis copying.

Relevant Facts

VMG Salsoul, LLC (the plaintiff) composed and recorded a song called “Ooh I Love It (Love Break)”. The song included two different horn hits played by a combination of horns: (1) a single-horn hit, consisting of a quarter-note, and (2) a double-horn hit, consisting of an eighth note immediately followed by a quarter note. Both horn hits are featured more than 20 times each in “Love Break.” The plaintiff owned copyrights for both the sound recording and composition of “Love Break.” Several years later, Madonna Ciccone (the defendant) recorded the song “Vogue.” “Vogue” used rhythmically similar single and double-horn hits, although on different notes and in a different key. In “Vogue,” many other instruments are play at the same time as the horn hits, and other sounds, like a cymbal crash, are electronically overlaid onto the horn hits. “Vogue’s” horn hits are featured a total of only 6 times. The plaintiff sued for copyright infringement, alleging that the defendant sampled “Love Break’s” horn hits without permission. The defendant filed a motion for summary judgment.

The district court granted the defendant’s motion, holding that even if actual copying did occur, a trivial, or de minimis, amount of copying does not constitute infringement. The plaintiff appealed.

Issue

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Holding & Reasoning

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Concurrence

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Dissent

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Last updated:

December 12, 2020

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Procedural History

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Citations

824 F.3d 871 (9th Cir. 2016)