An Introductory Guide to the California Art Preservation Act

Artists and anyone dealing in art should be aware of the California Art Preservation Act. The law in the state of the California dates to 1979 and has since been amended a few times. California Civil Code §987 or the California Art Preservation Act protects the moral rights of artists. It was one of the first such state laws to specifically secure the rights of artists in the country. Some of the provisions of this law overlap with those of Visual Artists Rights Act. In cases where provisions are in conflict, the statutes in the California Art Preservation Act will prevail in the state.

This law regulates injunctive relief, The Law Office of Michael Rehm, and civil penalties for any intentional or negligent mutilation or destruction of fine art, which is basically any artwork that is of a certain quality. Common examples are original painting, drawing and sculpture. The definition of fine art excludes works that are created or made for any commercial use by a buyer. The same law that provides the legal protection to the fine art scene in the state also ensures artists have the right to authorship and can disapprove modifications to their fine artworks. All rights as guaranteed by this law would subsist for the entire lifetime of the author and an additional fifty years.

There are lucid definitions of various terms used by the legislature while formulating this law. An artist is an individual or group of people who have created a fine artwork. Fine art is always an original drawing, painting, sculpture, work of glass or other material that is of recognized quality. Any fine art created under a contract for any commercial use is not covered by the act. A person or an entity in these cases may be an individual or a partnership, a corporation or an association, a limited liability company or group. There are other defined terms relevant in the exercising of the law, such as frame, restore, conserve and commercial use. These are effectively their literal meanings.

The law assures an artist the right to authorship and to even give up authorship, to seek injunctive relief or actual damages, punitive damages, fees for attorney and in cases where relevant for expert witness among other reliefs that the court may deem fit and proper in a situation. Since there is a little ambiguity pertaining to what qualifies as fine artworks of a recognized quality, opinions of credible artists and art dealers, curators of museums and art collectors would be considered. The rights enjoyed by an artist can also be passed on to a representative, usually an heir or beneficiary. The devisee will continue to be able to exercise these rights until the fiftieth death anniversary of the artist.

There are various implications of the law in the real world and in the art scene in California. Since artworks are handled, moved, displayed, bought and sold, preserved and restored, in some cases damaged and at times destroyed, the provisions of the law have to be exercised deftly by an expert attorney.

Accidents in San Diego (and the law)

The personal injury law of California will be exercised in cases of accidents. The same law applies to car accidents, personal injury suffered at the workplace or any other place where a person or an entity is at fault, any type of injury caused by dog bites or when attacked by a pet and other accidents. There are some statutes in the law that you should be aware of to ensure that you are indeed eligible for damages and that you file your claims for compensation at the right time.

•           Every state has what is called statute of limitations. This is essential a period within which you must file your claims for compensation. This applies to all kinds of accidents. Whether it is a car accident or a sporting accident, personal injury suffered at the workplace or any other type of incident that has caused you harm, you should file your claim for compensation within two years. It should be noted that many states allow such claims to be filed within three years from the date of the accident. California does not permit three years. If you wait for two years or longer and then file your claims, the court will refuse to entertain it and your lawsuit would be rejected outright. This is regardless of how genuine your claim is and how severe your injury may have been. The only exception to this statute of limitations is in case of medical malpractice. Also, this statute does not apply to cases where victims or injured people file a lawsuit against any of the state government agencies or departments. You must file personal injury lawsuit against any local agency of the city or county of San Diego within six months from the date of the accident. The statute of limitations is not two years when a government entity is the defendant. 

•           California has a shared fault provision in its personal injury law. This is like the shared fault statute in the state of New York. If you as the victim who has been injured is also to be blamed or partly at fault for the accident, then your claim for compensation would be adequately reduced in proportion to your fault. If you are twenty percent at fault and the other party shares the rest of the blame, then the amount you claim as damages or compensation would be reduced by twenty percent. This is done straightaway by the court. This happens regardless of how severe your injury is or how much money you have had to spend on your medical treatments and other expenses. The shared fault provision is often used by defendants. The representatives of insurance companies tend to explore this provision during arbitration or settlement discussion and you may end up losing more than the proportionate share as it may be determined by the court. You should have an attorney by your side to ensure the pure comparative negligence provision is not used unfairly against you.

New Lawsuit against Spotify

The New Lawsuit against Spotify


Copyright infringement and royalty issues continue to trouble Swedish digital streaming company Spotify. While its podcasts and videos are substantially safe, its music streaming has been hit with several lawsuits over the years. The latest lawsuit has been failed by Wixen Music Publishing and it demands $1.6 billion in mechanical royalties, damages, injunctive relief and legal costs including fees of the attorneys. The massive lawsuit comes at a time when Spotify is about to carry out its initial public offering. The company is presently valued at around $19 billion. The reevaluation was poised to help a windfall gain for its founders and investors should the initial public offering have gone without any further mishap, technological or legal. The lawsuit threatens not just the IPO but also the modus operandi of the company.


According to the lawsuit, Wixen Music Publishing claims that Spotify has not paid the songwriter royalties around 21% of the time. In other words, one out of every five artists have not received their dues or that one track out of every five songs or compositions that users access is not being duly paid for by the company. This is unsurprising for those who have been familiar with how Spotify began its journey and what types of copyright issues it has had in the past. Wixen Music Publishing represents Rage against the Machine, Tom Petty, Neil Young, Missy Elliott, Beach Boys and Weezer among others.


The fine print is pretty simple. The lawsuit simply states that Spotify has not paid for mechanical licenses that are necessary to distribute or reproduce any music composition. Wixen claims a hundred and fifty thousand as the license fee per song or composition. The issue of mechanical license has come up time and again, especially for streaming services that offer an interactive interface. Radios and other standard broadcasts do not offer any interactivity as there is a lineup of songs or tracks that users listen to. Spotify allows users to select the song they want to hear and hence it is an interactive service. Such a service needs to pay the more conventional royalty, covering performance. It must also pay mechanical royalties because the performance is being replicated or reproduced and distributed.


Spotify does not have the finest record when it comes to lawsuits or even their legal standpoints, according to Santa Cruz Car Accident Attorneys. Often, they have argued in a conflicting manner while moving from one case to another. They have advocated mechanical royalties but have failed to pay them. They have often argued against mechanical royalties. The company is often accused of having its origins in music piracy. It is still believed that the company, as a matter of practice, doesn’t always pay every artist or songwriter and anyone else who should be given due royalties. If popular artists with adequate representation have to take legal action, then unknown or unrepresented artists cannot really expect much.


Spotify had paid over forty three million dollars in mid 2017 that was due to songwriters and publishers. It is not the only settlement Spotify has been compelled to over the years. The company has dealt with class action lawsuits in the past, most notable ones filed by National Music Publishers Association and another filed by a group of independent songwriters.


Led Zeppelin Copyright Lawsuit

Led Zeppelin recently had to defend their most iconic song in court. It was alleged that the group was not in fact responsible for their career-defining track “Stairway to Heaven.” The details of that lawsuit are fascinating, particularly to those who are compelled by lawsuits involving hit songs. The fact that the jury found that Led Zeppelin did not steal the song is something else to this case that is worth appreciating in greater detail.

And finally, it can even be interesting to compare the results of this recent lawsuit to other examples of lawsuits and hit songs.


Did Led Zeppelin Steal Stairway To Heaven?

At least as far as the jury is concerned, Led Zeppelin did not steal “Stairway to Heaven.” More specifically, as the lawsuit alleged, they did not steal the intro to the song. Given that the intro to “Stairway to Heaven” is perhaps the most famous part of a very famous song, this is certainly a case that was watched by music fans with great interest. Had Led Zeppelin lost the case, it stands to reason that the consequences would have been devastating. Most of all, it stands to reason that the decision would have been devastating to the band’s place in rock and roll history.

It took the jury approximately five hours to render their decision, remarkably short period of time for most cases according to various attorneys. The lawsuit claimed that both Robert Plant and Jimmy Page stole the first two minutes of their hit song from a Spirit song entitled “Taurus”. The lawsuit was brought about by the estate of deceased Spirit musician Randy Craig Wolfe. The estate behind Spirit’s instrumental ballad, released four years prior to “Stairway”, wanted both partial songwriting credit and financial compensation.

The lawsuit made some bold claims. Unfortunately for the estate of Randy Craig Wolfe, they were unable to prove any of their claims. In the first place, they were unable to prove that either Robert Plant or Jimmy Page were familiar with the band Spirit. In the second place, the lawsuit also failed to prove substantial similarities between “Taurus” and “Stairway to Heaven.” On the other hand, the defense proved themselves to be more than capable of proving the unique experiences that would lead to the creation of “Stairway.” For example, Plant described in vivid detail the time period in which “Stairway to Heaven” came together. This was one of the many elements of the defense that proved to be greater than any claims made by Wolfe’s estate, which was testimony that will long be cherished by fans of the band.

Led Zeppelin can breathe easy. They are not the only artists to find themselves dealing with a lawsuit along these lines.

Lawsuits Involving Popular Songs

Throughout history, you can seek out and find several different examples of cases that are similar to the one mentioned above:

  • Vanilla Ice and Queen: Remember “Ice, Ice, Baby”? The song played a significant role in propelling rapper Vanilla Ice to the top of the charts in the early 1990s. Unfortunately, the success of the song also brought the wrath of Queen’s lawyers. Sampling in hip hop had become a hot topic by that point. It was impossible for Ice to prove that he had not sampled Queen’s “Under Pressure” without permission. He settled out of court.
  • Huey Lewis and Ray Parker Jr: Having written his song a year prior, pop superstar Huey Lewis felt that he had common sense on his side, when it came to his contention that Ray Parker Jr.’s “Ghostbusters” was a rip-off of the Lewis track “I Want a New Drug.” Parker also settled out of court.
  • Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams and the Children of Marvin Gaye: The Robin Thicke/Pharrell Williams song “Blurred Lines” was also drawing considerable controversy, with many alleging that the song promoted rape culture. Further complicating things for Thicke and Williams was the eventual lawsuit that came against them from the children of Marvin Gaye. The lawsuit claimed that “Blurred Lines” borrowed heavily from “Got to Give it Up.” The seven million-dollar judgement against Thicke and Williams was trimmed, and it is currently under appeal.
  • VMG Salsoul and Madonna: The Delaware-based company claimed that Madonna took the horn section from “Ooh I Love It (Love Break),” for her song “Vogue.” Eventually, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court ruling that dismissed the suit.

Music and lawsuits seem to go hand in hand.