We here at Abnormal Use never meant to cause you any sorry and we never meant to cause you any pain. (Those are lyrics we’re paraphrasing, as if you didn’t recognize them!). This past Wednesday, June 25, 2014, was the thirtieth anniversary of the release of Prince and The Revolution’s Purple Rain album. So, of course, we had to mention that on the blog this week. Above, you’ll find the cover of Rock N’ Roll Comics #21, published not so long ago in 1991. We encourage you, our dear readers, to revisit this album over the weekend and report back to us on Monday with your thoughts. Being law nerds, we decided to turn to the case law and see how often, if at all, the courts have referenced “Purple Rain.”
Although we harbored some initial doubts about dedicating a post to an album by Prince, in the end, we figured we would throw caution to the wind. So here we go.
If you plug the phrase “Purple Rain” into Westlaw, 17 cases appear in the results. Most of those cases reference night clubs, recreational drugs, or commercial tanning products named “Purple Rain.”
But we thought we’d share the three we found most interesting.
A relatively recent North Carolina federal court case, Controversy Music v. Mason, No. 5:09–CV–488–BR (E.D.N.C. June 24, 2010) involved a copyright action in the default judgement setting). The relevant paragraph:
Plaintiffs are the exclusive copyright owners of the three musical recordings—“Purple Rain”, “Yo, Excuse Me Miss”, and “Please Don’t Go”—specified in this case. Plaintiffs filed their complaint on 10 November 2009, alleging that Defendant infringed upon the specified copyrights by giving unauthorized public performances of their works on both specific occasions and in an ongoing manner at Club International, owned by Defendant. Plaintiffs allege that Defendant’s actions constituted willful violation of their rights, because the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP), of which Plaintiffs are members, advised Defendant several times of his potential liability for copyright infringement. By way of the instant motion, Plaintiffs seek statutory damages of $5,000 for each of the three copyright infringements, reasonable costs and attorney’s fees in the amount of $2,650.71, and a permanent injunction against Defendant prohibiting him from publicly performing any of the copyrighted materials in ASCAP’s repertory without authorization.
In CBS Inc. v. Pennsylvania Record Outlet, Inc., 598 F.Supp. 1549 (W.D. Pa. 1984). The record store defendant was sanctioned for continuing to sell imported Canadian copies of Purple Rain – and other albums – after representing in a consent decree that it would not do so. The opinion has several references to agents of the Plaintiff buying copies of Purple Rain – and albums by Dio and Twister Sister – on various dates in 1984.
Back in 1989, the Amarillo Court of Appeals in Texas issued its opinion in Guss v. State, 763 S.W.2d 609 (Tex. App. – Amarillo, 1989, no writ). In that case, the defendant-appellant, charged with murder, appealed an issue relating to jury destruction. The defendant’s alias was “Purple Rain.” In fact, the full style of the case is Lisa Guss, A/K/A “Purple Rain,” Appellant, v. The State of Texas, Appellee.
So, dear readers, we recommend that you read the aforementioned three cases and find your cassette tape of Purple Rain and enjoy the weekend.