Frankie Valli And Ex-Jersey Boys Actors Sue Each Other Over Who Can Sing What Songs
from the ownership-society dept
The cast members want to go around performing covers of the songs in the play. Normally, performing covers is perfectly legal, given that the various compulsory licenses are paid. However, what makes this situation a little tricky is the fact that the musical is still out there. So Valli sued the cast members, saying that they weren't just performing covers, but they were creating a competing "unauthorized" musical, including, copying not just songs but "stage elements" and "logos" from the play.
The four cast members are now counter-suing, claiming that the original lawsuit is "motivated by petty vindictiveness and malice," and saying that Valli is "using bully tactics better suited for the schoolyard." All of that may be true, but it's not clear that much matters in the context of a lawsuit. Much more convincing is the basic claim that everything these four guys are doing is legal. It's factually accurate that they performed in Jersey Boys and can sing those songs, with the proper compulsory license. But, of course, with the added elements of the play, the copyright question gets a bit murkier. All it really shows is how copyright is, yet again, being used to stop performances and creativity, because someone claims to "own" parts of culture. What a shame.