Madonna Gets Attorneys’ Fees in “Vogue” Copyright Case

Pop superstar Madonna and others were awarded attorneys’ fees after their successful defense of a copyright infringement lawsuit – but not as much as most of them asked for.
The case involved Madonna’s 1990 hit song “Vogue.”
A federal judge ruled that Madonna, her producer, and others were entitled to $670,000 in attorneys’ fees plus $50,055 in court costs after prevailing in a lawsuit brought by VMG Salsoul LLC.
In November, the same judge ruled that the single horn chord from the plaintiff’s work that was allegedly copied was not sufficiently original to be protected by copyright.
The original chord appeared in a 1977 disco song called “Love Break” by the Salsoul Orchestra. The “horn hit” from “Love Break” was allegedly sampled in the “Vogue” recording.
The original complaint, with its single count of copyright infringement, alleged that Madonna’s producer remixed “Love Break” before he worked with Madonna and that he misappropriated the sample and surreptitiously incorporated it into Madonna’s song.
In addition, held the judge,
Even if the alleged appropriation was subject to copyright protection, the court finds that any copying was de minimis.
“Vogue” was a huge hit for Madonna and continues to generate revenue. The song was inspired by a dance of the same name popular in underground New York gay clubs. “Vogue” dancers use gestures, postures, and movements to imitate Hollywood stars and celebrities of bygone eras.
The song includes lyrics like:
Greta Garbo and Monroe,
Dietrich and DiMaggio
Marlon Brando, Jimmy Dean
On the cover of a magazine
Madonna had sought more than $1 million in fees that included billing by her copyright attorneys at up to $750 per hour.

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