U.S. Second Circuit - The FindLaw 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog

Court Renews Copyright Case Against Timberlake

If you know Milli Vanilli, Justin Timberlake is no Milli Vanilli.

The Milli duo lost their Grammy because they didn't actually sing their award-winning song. They went down as the best lip syncers, instead.

Timberlake, at least, sings his songs. However, a federal appeals court says he might owe another band for sampling their song.

"Sho Nuff"

Sly Slick & Wicked, a soul-funk group, recorded "Sho Nuff" in 1973. In 2016, they sued Timberlake for alleging he used it for his "Suit & Tie" recording.

John "Sly" Wilson and Charles "Slick" Still had filed the original copyright in 1973, and renewed their claims with Mark "Wicked" Sexton in 2015. A federal judge dismissed their claims based on the statute of limitations.

But the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals said the time-bar didn't apply to claims based on the renewed copyright.

Lita Rosario, who represents the plaintiffs, told Courthouse News that they have a "very strong, winnable case." She said it will also help other artists who have copyrights for pre-1978 recordings.

Pre-1978

Section 304 of the Copyright Act provides that authors who are living when their original 28-year copyright expires are entitled to renew and extend the copyright another 67 years.

"Sho' Nuff" was released on People Records, a label set up by James Brown. The record was a hit, making it to the era-epic "Soul Train."

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