SW Legal studies in Business

Phrase in Copyrighted Song Not Protected Against All Uses of Phrase
Description Court dismissed a suit brought by a song writer who copyrighted a song that contains the phrase "Texas Thunder." Because that phrase is not original, the owner of the song copyright cannot prevent others from using the phrase in music or in other market applications.
Topic Intellectual Property
Key Words Copyright; Infringement; Originality
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Domsalla began using the phrase "Texas Thunder" in 1993 in connection with a musical recording made by a group of musicians called Benny Valerio and Texas Thunder. Domsalla filed a copyright to protect the words "Texas Thunder" in connection with sound recording. Domsalla sued Stephens for using the band name "Rick Stevens and Texas Thunder" for copyright infringement.
Decision

Suit dismissed with prejudice. Domsalla owns a copyright for the use in commerce of the words "Texas Thunder" as embodied in his copyrighted sound recording in which those words appear. He "does not own, and could not even apply for or receive, a copyright for this phrase alone. The phrase 'Texas Thunder' lacks the originality required of copyrighted material." The phrase "Texas Thunder" is found on the Internet in over 20 examples of its use at motor speedways, three bands, a fastpitch softball team, and other used. Copyright of the words in a particular song do not provide protection of the phrase in other uses. There is no infringement.

Citation Domsalla v. Stephens, 2001 WL 493157 (N.D. Tex., 2001)

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