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Verdict Clear on “Blurred Lines” Copyright Case

Posted Tuesday, March 17, 2015 by Andrew Charles Huff

The performers behind the huge hit “Blurred Lines” got the bad news from a California jury last week…pay up. A federal jury ordered recording artists Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams to pay damages to the estate of Marvin Gaye for copyright infringement with the hit “Blurred Lines,” finding $4 million in damages plus profits. The jury ordered Thicke to pay $1.8 million and Williams $1.6 million. Both escaped statutory damages as the infringement was found not to be willful.

“Blurred Lines,” one of the most successful songs of the young century, was improperly drawn from the soulful 1977 “Got to Give It Up” according to the jury.

The verdict over a song that made more than $16 million in profits should resonate in the music industry where copyright lawsuits are commonplace, but most disputes are settled out of court, with few claims ever making it to trial. Not only did the “Blurred Lines” case go the distance, both sides brought esteemed entertainment litigators to testify for the jury.

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Knock and Talk” Rule Further Defined by Court of Appeals

Posted Friday, March 6, 2015 by Andrew Charles Huff

The 1998 case of State v. Ferrier held that before entering a citizen’s home without a warrant, police must ask them for consent, inform them they can revoke consent and notify the citizen that they may limit the scope of the search. These are commonly referred to as the Ferrier Warnings and are used by police in situations where a police officer does not have a search warrant but instead intends to seek permission to enter and search a home. These warnings must be read in their entirety before a police officer requests entry into a home without a warrant.

But what happens when police fail to read all these warnings prior to entry but then reads all the warnings once they enter the home and begin to search it? The Court of Appeals in State v. Budd recently answered that question and held that a police officer mist read all the warnings before entering the home even if they read the full warnings after entry but before the search. In other words, a partial reading of these warnings is not sufficient even if fully read later.

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Warrant or No Warrant-State Supreme Court to Decide

Posted Tuesday, February 24, 2015 by Andrew Charles Huff

Most people do not realize that law enforcement officials do not have to get a search warrant from a judge to obtain private bank, phone, email and other records. Currently, prosecutors have been able to get these records without showing probable cause — the standard that applies to search warrants. Instead, they can get this information with a subpoena issued in a secret hearing called a “special inquiry.”

That could change, as Washington’s Supreme Court will hear arguments on whether police investigators should have to get a search warrant to obtain these records.

Many attorneys argue this current procedure is a violation of Washington’s Constitution, which is considered to be more protective of people’s privacy than the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Prosecutors argue that the hearings are akin to grand jury proceedings without the grand jury — that they’re an efficient way to tackle complex crimes and that they do meet constitutional requirements.

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New “Felony DUI” Bill Introduced

Posted Monday, February 16, 2015 by Andrew Charles Huff

Washington law currently requires a fifth DUI within 10 years to be charged as a felony rather than a misdemeanor. However, a new bill in the Washington state Senate would make the fourth drunk-driving offense within 10 years a felony.

Lawmakers have tried to change the law before but have failed, in part due to concerns about increased jail capacity and the expense of more felony convictions. The bills’ current sponsor cited increased costs of $50 to $60 million.

Senate Bill 5105, which would lower the threshold for a felony DUI down to four within 10 years is before the Senate Law and Justice Committee. However, those same costs of housing more felons will no doubt be cited. The bill’s sponsor suggests the State might have to simply build more prisons.

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Former Sonic Swift Arrested

Posted Friday, January 9, 2015 by Andrew Charles Huff

Former Sonic Robert Swift was arrested Tuesday suspected of breaking into a Gold Bar home. Swift also had a warrant from an earlier gun charge. The 7-foot-1 Swift was a former first-round draft pick who reportedly earned $20 million during his career.

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