Response to Complaint filed by A&E Television Network for copyright infringement for the unauthorized use of 12 seconds of the song "Rocky Top" in an episode of the television show CITY CONFIDENTIAL.
The song is included in a scene of a University of Tennessee football game as performed by the school’s marching band. Defendant’s Memorandum in Support of its Motion to Dismiss states: “During this brief sequence, and as part of the actual noise occurring within the stadium, the UTK marching band can be heard playing an instrumental version of the musical composition “Rocky Top.” The song is audible for a total of approximately twelve seconds; however, the tremendous noise of the crowd and the narration of the documentary obscure the song for approximately six of the twelve seconds. Therefore, the song “Rocky Top” can be heard on its own for only six seconds of the Program.”
A&E, citing the 2008 court ruling regarding the use of the song “Imagine,” argues the usage was “fair use” which is a defense to copyright infringement. In the “Imagine” case, Yoko Ono -- the plaintiff, was denied an injunction for an unauthorized use of the song “Imagine” in the film Expelled, with the court holding the defendant/alleged infringer was likely to prevail on a fair use defense. A&E, like the defendant in the “Imagine” case, is relying on the transformative nature of the use. The Defendant’s Memorandum in Support of the Motion To Dismiss argues the use of “Rocky Top” is transformative in that it is used to portray the atmosphere around Knoxville and the lyrics, used in context with the subject matter of the murder mystery, are a commentary on what life should be like in Tennessee.
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