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Journal of the
Music & Entertainment Industry Educators Association
Volume 11, Number 1 (2011)

Can I Get a (Defense Expert) Witness? The Role of the Expert Witness for the Defense in a Music Copyright Infringement Matter

E. Michael Harrington
William Paterson University

    You have written a song that your band has recorded and released. It begins to sell when unexpectedly you receive notice that another rock band is convinced you’ve stolen their song. An attorney representing that band has alleged that your song copied their song and demands that you stop selling your song and pay that band substantial money for damages. In addition, he demands that your song be pulled off all radio playlists and the video taken off all cable channels and web sites. The plaintiffs have not yet asked for your first born—but more complaints and demands could be forthcoming.

    You are about to become a defendant in a copyright infringement lawsuit—a federal offense—and this is the first time you have ever been accused of breaking a federal law. Fortunately, you have an experienced entertainment attorney with a strong understanding of copyright law. He is from a top-tier law school and has worked in the entertainment industry for many years. He is not your cousin the divorce attorney who is willing to help you for free or a reduced rate because “blood is thicker than water,” or your college roommate who has just passed the state bar exam and is up for a challenge in the infancy of his legal career.

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