Apple Sued for Artistic Copyright Infringement

Apple may be in trouble with its Apple TV set top player and the iTunes store in regards to two separate lawsuits filed this week.

The first claims that Apple knowingly infringed on copyrights belonging to artistic photographer Louis Psihoyos with an Apple TV advertisement that uses a "video wall" consisting of many small videos playing at once with an Apple TV box in the middle. According to the lawsuit which was filed in Boulder, Colorado, the similarity between Apple's video wall and Psihoyos' photo is too close to be merely coincidence. In fact, Apple and Psihoyos had been in negotiations over the use of his photo or concept but they never reached an agreement. Psihoyos' attorney Richard Kaudy wrote in the complaint that Apple knowingly ignored Psihoyos' "rights and feelings" and any profits that Apple generated from the Psihoyos' work were kept for itself.

The second suit is a civil complaint that claims Apple along with pop star Avril Lavigne of knowingly infringing on a song written in 1979. The complaint charges that Apple's iTunes music store is an acting catalyst for music infringement. According to the suit, Avril Lavigne's hit single "Girlfriend" is based on another song from the 1970's called "I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend" by James Gangwer and Tommy Dunbar. According to plaintiffs Gangwer and Dunbar, any company that sells and publishes Lavigne's song is infringing on their original work.

News source: DailyTech

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25 Comments

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The author of the article should be sued for putting Avril Lavigne and "hit" in the same sentence, especially with "Girlfriend". But I'm sure the lawsuit has given Apple lawyers a good laugh.

Apple probably figured a video wall is far to generic an image to worry about being sued. Especially since their one was produced entirely independently of the original.

They were in negotiations over his photo, but couldn't reach an agreement. So Apple just copied his idea and moved on. That seems wrong to me.

The 2nd is stupid, though.

Ripping off artists is pretty low, even for Apple. But the second lawsuit, I understand suing Avril Lavigne but suing Apple because they sell it? wtf? plus why dont they sue every other music service that sells Avril Lavigne songs?


When Louie Psihoyos is asked to illustrate a big concept, such as the mega-channelled future of cable TV for a 1995 National Geographic shoot, he takes the assignment literally. This composite image, using multiple exposures of 100 TV monitors, was recently used in an AOL ad and sells a dozen or more times per month.
Copyright © Louie Psihoyos/Science Faction Images

This one was made by him?

Unless all of Avril's CDs, music video plays and radio plays for that song are retracted *before* any lawsuit is deemed valid in court and the lawsuit is won, I don't see how they can implicate iTunes and only iTunes.

correct me if im wrong... about every single music related store in about the whole world sells that song...

I think those guys are full of ****... going by the sounds of it she would have changed more that the work boyfriend to girlfriend...

First one: We'll see what happens here... I don't know the full story, so I can't pass judgement. Though looking at the images, they are extremely similar. I don't know if simple similarity is grounds for copyright infringement though.

Second one: Get the **** out. Seriously. The people suing this should be shot in the face. It's not Apple's job to regulate the music industry, they just sell the music. If Apple is liable, then every single store that sells CDs and every radio station that plays the song is liable for this. This will certainly be thrown out.

I don't care for her. She goes around and wants to call her music punk and she tries to play the punk role when she's pure pop and nothing more. She's a fake. People can get mad at me all they want for saying it, I don't care. She started off singing country and when she couldn't make it she made a total switch to "punk". She also treats her fans like crap and tries to say she's "original" and that she doesn't like how people steal "her look". That "look" has been around since what, the late 60's early 70's?

I knew that Girlfriend song sounded like something else I've heard. Yes she can get in trouble if she sampled a song, music or words and didn't get permission to do it, but that has nothing to do with Apple so I don't see why they're going after Apple for it. Same thing happened with Vanilla Ice with Ice Ice Baby and the Play the Funky Music songs. He sampled Queen's bass line from Under Pressure and didn't get permission and he used the "play that funky music white boy" line from the orginal song and didn't get permission. The guy who wrote that song got a nice chunk of cash from Vanilla Ice.

the second one never actually mentions that they've copyrighted the song? its a ridiculous reason too.

the first one would probably get somewhere though considering apple did the same with cisco and had to reach a settlement/agreement.

the second one never actually mentions that they've copyrighted the song? its a ridiculous reason too.

For a long time now, am pretty sure you dont need to copyright anything you put out for sale. Its assumed to be copyrighted by default unless otherwise stated

troist said,
the first one would probably get somewhere though considering apple did the same with cisco and had to reach a settlement/agreement.

What happened with Cisco is completely different and involves trademark which is different then copyright. Trademark law says you actually have to use/defend your trademark...you can't be a company and just go about Trademarking terms in hopes someone wants to use them later..its like cybersquatting.

Cisco acquired the iPhone trademark when they bought another company. They NEVER used the trademark, they NEVER defended it and they KNEW Apple was going to want it....but Cisco dropped the ball. first they slapped the iPhone trademark on a OLD product, which is a no no, then they forgot to renew the trademark multiple times, nor did they try to defend the trademark when Apple began using it...they waited until it was too late for Apple to turn back then they cried infringement. Apple tried to come to a deal with Cisco at first, but after investigating the case they knew they weren't going to lose so they told Cisco to goto hell...Cisco then looked at the facts and said "well crap...guess we better get something rather then nothing"

these cases are not similar at all.

Qumahlin said,

What happened with Cisco is completely different and involves trademark which is different then copyright. Trademark law says you actually have to use/defend your trademark...you can't be a company and just go about Trademarking terms in hopes someone wants to use them later..its like cybersquatting.

Cisco acquired the iPhone trademark when they bought another company. They NEVER used the trademark, they NEVER defended it and they KNEW Apple was going to want it....but Cisco dropped the ball. first they slapped the iPhone trademark on a OLD product, which is a no no, then they forgot to renew the trademark multiple times, nor did they try to defend the trademark when Apple began using it...they waited until it was too late for Apple to turn back then they cried infringement. Apple tried to come to a deal with Cisco at first, but after investigating the case they knew they weren't going to lose so they told Cisco to goto hell...Cisco then looked at the facts and said "well crap...guess we better get something rather then nothing"

these cases are not similar at all.

Hardly. Apple was in the wrong on this one, plain and simple. Cisco (and it's subsidiaries, though they may not have been so at the time) used the trademark iPhone in 1995, 2001, and 2005, and still Apple basically said "Let's just use it, then claim that the mean nasty Cisco is scaring us! Our rabid fans will defend us, and Cisco will back down to avoid bad PR!" Unfortunately, rabid Apple followers are actually so blasted deluded that they actually DID this.

The first one seems valid, and didn't apple play that game with the iPhone and Cisco as well?

The second one, give me a break almost all music is recycled across all genres. Unless all she did was replace girlfriend with boyfriend in the song

xtravgnt said,
The second one, give me a break almost all music is recycled across all genres. Unless all she did was replace girlfriend with boyfriend in the song :blink:

I was listening to the radio earlier and they played the songs in question together and from what i heard it does sound like thats all they have done

Quote - (D @ Ranged said,#1.1)
I was listening to the radio earlier and they played the songs in question together and from what i heard it does sound like thats all they have done :blink:

I just listened to the "original" and I must say the only thing similar is the chorus and that's it. You can even check the lyrics for both if you'd like, and you'd see they're only similar with the chorus.

gigapixels said,

I just listened to the "original" and I must say the only thing similar is the chorus and that's it. You can even check the lyrics for both if you'd like, and you'd see they're only similar with the chorus.

Unfortunately (or fortunately) just infringement on the chorus is enough to make a case, especially that's what most people recognize. Naming Apple in the case, however, makes no sense. Why not sue Best Buy as well?