Johnson v. Cypress Hill, No. 08-3810 (7th Cir. 2011)Annotate this Case
In 1993 a hip-hop group released a track that contains a segment of plaintiff's 1969 song. The district court dismissed plaintiff's 2003 copyright suit. Under the Copyright Act, sound recordings fixed before February 15, 1972 are not subject to copyright protection, but may be protected by state law (17 U.S.C. 301(c)). The court denied a motion to amend and awarded $321,995.25 in attorney's fees and $10,620.53 in costs. A new claim, filed in state court, was removed to federal court and dismissed as res judicata. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. The trial court correctly denied the motion to amend, based on the undue delay between the plaintiff's notice of the defects in his claim and the motion. The fact that the material was not under copyright did not deprive the court of jurisdiction and the second complaint was properly dismissed.