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Black & LoBello and Legal Team Score Big Copyright Victory for Jersey Boys

LAS VEGAS, June 15, 2017 – The Nevada law firm of Black & LoBello and its legal teammates won a decade-old copyright battle on behalf of its clients, the widely popular musical Jersey Boys, which tells the story of the band Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons.  Yesterday afternoon, a Federal Court issued a lengthy order overturning a November 2016 jury verdict of copyright infringement against the Jersey Boys.  The lawsuit, filed in 2007, concerns an unpublished autobiography of Tommy DeVito, a former member of the Four Seasons, which was co-authored by DeVito and the plaintiff’s deceased husband.  The plaintiff claims that Jersey Boys was derived from that unpublished DeVito autobiography, which is referred to as the “Work” in the lawsuit.  The plaintiff initially also named DeVito himself as a defendant but settled with him just before trial.

During the past ten years, the lawsuit has made several twists and turns, including a previous trip to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, before finally coming to a month-long trial last November 2016, which included testimony by Four Season members, Frankie Valli and Bob Gaudio, and Broadway heavyweights like Michael David, Rick Elice, Marshall Brickman, Des MacAnuff and Doug Wright.

The verdict found that the Jersey Boys to have infringed plaintiff’s copyright and that 10 percent of the success of the Jersey Boys was attributable to the use of the unpublished DeVito autobiography, which was referred to as the “Work” in the lawsuit.  Black & LoBello attorneys, Maximiliano D. Couvillier and Todd Kennedy, together with co-counsel Dan Mayeda and David Korzenik, promptly filed motions with the Court pointing out missed key evidence and other legal and factual errors with the verdict.  After seven months of painstakingly considering the verdict and the evidence, U.S. Federal Judge, Robert C. Jones agreed with Jersey Boys’ attorneys that errors were inadvertently made, key evidence missed and justice required vindication for Jersey Boys.

Ultimately, the Judge found that plaintiff’s “Work” did not contribute to the Jersey Boys’ success as the verdict suggests.  Rather, Judge Jones noted that “substantial evidence admitted at trial” demonstrated that the success of Jersey Boys was largely attributed to the “inventive material in the script, the stagecraft used in live production, the use of copyrighted music in the Play… direction and production efforts (including the employment of world-renowned writers, directors, and producers), and advertising and promotion efforts.”  The “Work” itself is not publishable and has not found any success.  “If anything, the [Jersey Boys] Play has increased the value of the Work,” Judge Jones added.

Judge Jones also found that the “clear weight of the evidence” debunked plaintiff’s claims that the Jersey Boys improperly used the Work.  For example, in a 1999 written agreement, DeVito gave the Jersey Boys a “full license to use of the Work in creating and producing a play.”  The Judge also found that any actual use of the Work was miniscule and considered “fair use” under copyright law, for which no compensation is owed to a copyright owner.  After exhaustively reviewing the evidence, Judge Jones penned: “In summary, at most, the jury could have found about 145 creative words to have been copied from the Work into the Play… Those 145 words constitute about 0.2% of the approximately 68,500 words in the Work (approximately 250 words per page times 274 pages).”

The Jersey Boys defendants are represented by Black & LoBello attorneys, Maximiliano D. Couvillier III and Todd Kennedy, along with Daniel Mayeda of Leopold Petrich & Smith LLP and David Korzenik of Miller Korzenik Sommers LLP

Maximiliano D. Couvillier III, who is also Black & LoBello’s Managing Partner, is naturally ecstatic with the outcome.   “We have always believed that law and the facts were on our client’s side and it is rewarding to have reached an outcome that overwhelmingly validates that belief.”   Todd Kennedy added, “This is not only an important outcome for copyright law, but a vindication of our clients’ hard work, integrity and creativity.  Justice has indeed prevailed.”

Black & LoBello is an AV-Rated full-service law firm in Las Vegas, Nevada, practicing in a wide range of personal, business and corporate legal services such as intellectual property, commercial litigation, real estate, banking and finance, regulatory matters, bankruptcy, family laws, and estate planning and probate.  For more information, please email mcouvillier@blacklobello.law or call 702-869-8801.  #NevadaStrong #NevadaLaw

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