Perhaps because of her young age, Judge Nathan appears to be a fan of (or to at least have a nominal amount of familiarity with) the Beastie Boys, unlike Judge Engelmayer. I say this because she recently issued an opinion in the case of TufAmerica Inc. v. Diamond, and it's an entertaining read. Here's how she introduces the Beasties:
Then she got dope and dropped this footnote:
You don't see Urban Dictionary getting much judicial notice these days outside of S.D.N.Y. where the judges keep it real. Then she drops further science:
The case itself involves music "sampling," which the Oxford Dictionary defines as "the technique of digitally encoding music or sound and reusing it as part of a composition or recording."Judge Nathan then drops a footnote citing further support explaining what a sample is for the benefit of readers trapped in a cultural black hole:
Judicial opinions are by and large drier than sawdust and about as much fun to ponder. Winking acknowledgements from a judge showing that she's down makes my job at G:TB so much better.
The dispute at issue in the case stems from sampling performed by the Beasties of various Trouble Funk songs. Here's a handy chart:
And here are links to the songs at issue:
Drop the Bomb
Let's Get Small
Good to Go
Hold It Now Hit It
The New Style
B-Boy Bouillabaisse/A.W.O.L. - EMI blocked it on YouTube for copyright infringement but if you don't have Paul's Boutique in your iPod already, stop reading, go get a clue, then go get the album. I'll wait for you to catch up.
The Beastie Boys moved to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. In explaining her reasoning as to which test of infringement to apply, Judge Nathan noted that one test examines "the 'parroting [of] properties that are apparent only when numerous aesthetic decisions embodied in the the plaintiff's work of art ... are considered in relation to one another'" and in contrast, "[u]nlike this latter type of copying, in cases of fragmented literal similarity, there are no blurred lines between what was or was not taken." Get it? There are blurred lines when you parrot another artist's aesthetic decisions? Because despite what Robin Thicke says, Blurred Lines (SFW version) parrots another artist's aesthetic decisions? Judge Nathan clearly reads GTB.
Challah at me if you want a copy of the opinion because after she slogs through various procedural issues it's a fun read. The Beasties won on four of the six claims, but the Say What and Let's Get Small claims survive. Probably because Judge Nathan is eager to issue another opinion where she gets to write "and we love the hot butter, 'say what,' the popcorn" and "Now I want y'all to break this down."
Just when I thought the opinion was winding down, Judge Nathan turned to a new issue ... claim accrual!!! And her decision to apply the injury rule turned on ... wait for it ... Urbont v. Sony Music Entm't!!! Judge Nathan totally reads this blog. And as a result, the Beasties are only on the hook for infringement that occurred after May 12, 2009, to the extent that they are on the hook at all. And if they wind up on the hook I'm sure they'll Harry Houdini out the cuffs and kick the screw in the knee. Just a hunch.