Bridgeport Music, Inc. v. Dimension Films
410 F.3d 792 (6th Cir. 2005)
Bridgeport and Westbound owned
the copyrights to the musical composition and sound recordings
respectively, of a George Clinton song. A four second long, three note
sample from the song was taken and used in a tape loop for a rap song
included in the soundtrack of a movie owned by Dimension.
Dimension had gotten
Bridgeport's license, but did not have a license from Westbound.
Westbound sued Dimension for copyright
The Trial Court found for
Dimension. Westbound appealed.
The Trial Court agreed that
Dimension had used the sample without permission, but that the use was de
The Appellate Court reversed.
The Appellate Court found
that a defense of de minumus use should not be allowed when the defendant
has not disputed that it digitally sampled a copyrighted sound recording.
The Court found that 17
U.S.C. §114(b) clearly gives the
copyright holder the exclusive right to prepare derivative works.
The Court distinguished this
case from Newton v. Diamond (388
F.3d 1189 (2004)). In that case, the infringer had a license to the
sound recording, but not the underlying composition. In this case,
Dimension had a license to the underlying composition, but not the sound
The Court found that the
difference was that it was very easy to prove that someone sampled an
actual sound recording.