Copyright at Issue in Battle of the Bands

Oct 25, 2011 - LegalZoom News Sources
A Chicago band has sued Poison for copyright infringement.

Two members of a 1980s Chicago-based band called Kid Rocker recently filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against the band Poison, alleging the hair metal hitmakers stole Kid Rocker material to create such well-known songs as "Talk Dirty to Me" and "Fallen Angel."

Plaintiffs Billy McCarthy and James Stonich contend that guitarist C.C. DeVille was familiar with Kid Rocker's music because he auditioned for the band prior to joining Poison. With Poison, DeVille achieved stardom for performing songs that McCarthy and Stonich now allege were based on Kid Rocker material.

Because the songs in question all appeared on Poison's early albums, there is a question as to whether the statute of limitations has run out on any copyright infringement that might have occurred. According to the Hollywood Reporter, the former Kid Rocker musicians might be suing on the basis of a little-invoked legal framework known as "continuing wrong."

Under most interpretations of copyright law, victims of infringement have three years to file a suit after discovering the offense, but the continuing wrong theory argues that this interpretation of the law is too narrow, and copyright holders should be allowed to recover damages for wrongs that occurred after the three-year period, according to an article in the Washington University Law Quarterly.