Fantasy, Inc. v. Fogerty

Christopher Freeland
Case Brief


John Fogerty is the former lead singer and songwriter for the American rock band, Creedence Clearwater Revival (CCR). When Fogerty left the band, Fantasy, Inc. (Fantasy) contractually owned the copyright to the CCR song “Run through the Jungle.” In 1985, Fantasy sued Fogerty for infringing this copyright in his new song, “The Old Man down the Road.” A jury found that Fogerty’s new song did not infringe Fantasy’s copyright on the merits because Fogerty had a right to continue creating music in the “Swamp Rock” style. The district court Fogerty $1,347,519.15 in attorney’s fees. The issue in this appeal is whether the district court had discretion to award Fogerty attorney’s fees when Fantasy’s conduct in bringing the suit was faultless.

Granting attorney’s fees to a defendant is within a court’s discretion if they further the purpose of the copyright act and there is no requirement of plaintiff culpability.

Here, Fogerty’s victory on the merits furthered the purposes of the copyright act. The Copyright Act's primary goal is, “to encourage the production of original literary, artistic, and musical expression for the good of the public.” By allowing Fogerty to continue making “Swamp Rock” music, the decision encourages him and others to continue creating original musical expression for the good of the public. It was therefore within the District Court’s discretion to grant attorney’s fees to Fogerty. The fact that Fantasy did not bring the suit in bad faith is a fact that the District Court was free to consider when exercising its discretion, but it is not determinative.

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