Tenth Circuit: Insufficient proof of access dooms copyright infringement claim

In a recent decision, the Tenth Circuit affirmed a district court's finding of no copyright infringement after a bench trial and the findings for the defendants on related claims.  The district court held there was insufficient evidence of copying, specifically that there was no evidence the defendants had access to the copyrighted work.  The copyright infringement claim was the basis for claims under the Lanham Act and New Mexico Unfair Trade Practices Act, and the district court accordingly found for the defendants on these claims as well.  

The Tenth Circuit affirmed, finding no clear error in this determination.  The court held that while there was a "bare possibility" that the defendants had access to the plaintiff's copyrighted work, there was insufficient evidence to reverse the district court's factual determination of no access.  Further, the alleged copies were insufficiently similar to meet the "striking similarity" standard which permits access to be presumed.  Accordingly, the court affirmed the finding of no copyright infringement.

Because the copyright infringement claim was the basis for the Lanham Act and New Mexico Unfair Trade Practices Act claims, the Tenth Circuit also affirmed the district court's findings for the defendants on these claims.

More on La Resolana Architects, PA v. Reno, Inc. after the jump.

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Fifth Circuit: Beyoncé song does not infringe songwriter's copyright

In a decision last week, the Fifth Circuit affirmed a district court's grant of summary judgment of no copyright infringement.  A plaintiff brought suit against the singer Beyoncé Knowles and several parties with whom she is associated alleging that Beyoncé's song "Baby Boy" infringed the plaintiff's work.  The district court granted summary judgment of noninfringement based on a lack of substantial similarity.

The Fifth Circuit affirmed, but on the grounds that the plaintiff had not proven access to the copyrighted work.  The plaintiff's responses to Beyoncé's requests for admissions foreclosed most of her theories of access, and the remaining theories were too speculative to survive summary judgment.  As a result, the Fifth Circuit affirmed the summary judgment of noninfringement.

More detail of Armour v. Knowles after the jump.

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