Sony Music Faces Copyright Infringement Charges — Over the Title of an Album

Sony Music Entertainment's release, 'Yo Soy Boricua Pa’ Que Tú Lo Sepas'
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Sony Music Entertainment's release, 'Yo Soy Boricua Pa’ Que Tú Lo Sepas'
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Sony Music Entertainment’s release, ‘Yo Soy Boricua Pa’ Que Tú Lo Sepas’

Joel Bosch alleges that Sony Music infringed his copyright by naming a compilation after his famous ’90s song.  But are his claims an overreach?

Ah, copyright infringement.  Sometimes it’s blatant and obvious.  Other times harder to pick apart.  This might be an example of the latter.

Enter Puerto Rican songwriter Joel Bosch, who recently sued Sony Music.  The lawsuit alleges that Sony infringed his copyright by naming a compilation album after Bosch’s famous ’90s song.  Bosch, better known as Taino, is famous for the song he wrote in the mid-1990s called ‘Yo Soy Boricua Pa’ Que Tú Lo Sepas’.

The phrase means, ‘I’m Puerto Rican, just so you know,’ with ‘Boricua’ being a term for a Puerto Rican person.

According, the song itself has grown into a social statement of proud Puerto Ricans from all over the world.  It’s often heard at major events, including the Puerto Rican Day Parade in New York.  It’s an anthem, which makes the next part tricky.

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In 2014, Sony Music released the compilation album with the title, ‘Yo Soy Boricua Pa Que Tu Lo Sepas,’ which of course uses the same phrase.

The album is a collection of tracks by famous Puerto Rican artists, with the anthem apparently viewed as a general term instead of a copyrighted phrase.

Bosch alleges that Sony’s use of the title is copyright infringement. This is because ‘Yo Soy Boricua Pa’ Que Tú Lo Sepas’ is also the key lyric in his song.

This is now a serious case.  Bosch’s lawsuit reads: “Plaintiff’s copyrighted musical composition is centered around the lyric ‘Yo Soy Boricua Pa’ Que Tú Lo Sepas’ which forms the chorus of the composition and is a significant part of the original musical composition. Sony has used plaintiff’s lyrics as the title of its musical compilation. Sony has copied and reproduced plaintiff’s lyrics in its product, in the packaging, inserts, and CD”.

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Actually, this is the third lawsuit filed by Bosch this year in relation to his song.  For allegedly using his musical work in advertising content, he has previously sued T-Mobile and Coca-Cola.

6 Responses

  1. For The Record

    If history is any precedent, he has no case.
    Both Rhino’s 15 volume “Just Can’t Get Enough” series and EMI’s 5 volume “Living In Oblivion” series lifted the titles of well known new wave songs, by Depeche Mode and Anything Box respectively (and neither of those songs were even on the compilations!)

  2. randallfoster

    Even with the precedent- Titles are not copyrightable in the US. I don’t see this going anywhere…

  3. Paul Resnikoff

    Thanks both. I suppose emotionally, even logically one might think an album title is a copyrightable entity. For example, Illmatic. It would be like a rap compilation called ‘Illmatic’.

    Seem like a trademark claim would be more appropriate, especially if the usage was broader. And if it was registered as such.

  4. Jeff

    Bosh owns the trademark and copyright for the song chorus and is used by him selling merchandising. He has sold the mark for years. Furthermore Sony signed him and released him many years ago and used the track in compilations and a maxi single. They knew very well what they were doing. Sony is in big trouble the composer has a long standing precedent that is his song and mark 86546701