July 2003

Artists, Record Labels, Music Publishers

A federal judge has dismissed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Britney Spears, her record label (Zomba/Jive) and BMG Music Publishing, saying two Philadelphia songwriters failed to prove the pop singer copied the melody of one of their songs.
U.S. District Judge Berle M. Schiller ruled last week that Michael Cottrill and Lawrence Wnukowski couldn’t provide enough evidence to prove Spears had access to their song titled, “What You See Is What You Get,” when she recorded, “What U See (Is What U Get).”
Cottrill and Wnukowski said they gave one of Spears’ representatives a copyrighted version of their tune in late 1999 after being asked to submit songs for consideration for the singer’s upcoming album.
But Schiller, citing defence testimony, said the melody of Spears’ song was completed by the beginning of November 1999, before Spears and her representatives “would have had access to a copyrighted version of plaintiffs’ song.” The Judge went on to say that there weren’t enough similarities between the two songs to prove copyright infringement.
The four men credited with writing Spears’ song, released on her best-selling second album, “Oops! … I Did it Again,” testified that they hadn’t heard Cottrill and Wnukowski’s tune until two months ago and the Judge held that as the plaintiffs had not shown any evidence of access there was no reasonable possibility that the creators copied plaintiffs’ song before November 1999 when the melody of defendants’ song was completed.

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