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Pryor Cashman represents Elton and Bernie in copyright case
Monday, August 13 2012

Pryor Cashman is representing Sir Elton John and his longtime songwriting partner Bernie Taupin in a music copyright infringement case pending in U.S. District Court in Chicago, Illinois.

In the case, plaintiff Guy Hobbs, a photojournalist and aspiring songwriter, claims that lyrics which he wrote “about a Western man who encounters impossible love with a Russian girl” were infringed by the lyrics of Elton John’s song Nikita. Hobbs claims that his lyrics, which have never been put to music, were inspired by his cruise ship romance with a Russian waitress named “Natasha.”

In Nikita, which was made into a music video directed by Ken Russell, Elton John sings of his love for a border guard he has seen “by the wall” with her “[t]en tin soldiers in a row,” and she “look[s] up through the wire” as “[g]uns and gates” “hold [her] in.”

On August 7, 2012, Pryor Cashman filed a motion to dismiss the complaint on the grounds that the alleged similarities of “themes” cited by Hobbs are insufficient to constitute copyright infringement. A ruling on the motion to dismiss is expected in early Fall. Pryor Cashman litigation Partners Tom J. Ferber and Ilene S. Farkas, and associate Stephanie R. Kline, are representing Elton, Bernie and music publisher Big Pig Music Ltd in the action.

Read an article about the case that recently appeared in Law360.

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