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Copyrights Entertainment and Sports Law Litigation

‘Asserted Truths’ Doctrine Used to Decide Jersey Boys Copyright Dispute

In a recent decision, the Ninth Circuit held that materials taken from an autobiography of Tommy DeVito — an original member of The Four Seasons music group — and used in the Broadway musical Jersey Boys depicting the band’s history and hits, comprised facts and other noncopyrightable expression.

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To prove copyright infringement, a plaintiff must demonstrate that the defendant copied a substantial amount of protected expression from a plaintiff’s work. Facts themselves are not copyrightable, although a sufficiently original selection, coordination or arrangement of facts may qualify for a compilation copyright. In its recent decision in Corbello v. Valli, 974 F.3d 966 (9th Cir. 2020), the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held that materials taken from an autobiography of Tommy DeVito — an original member of The Four Seasons music group — and used in the Broadway musical Jersey Boys depicting the band’s history and hits, comprised facts and other noncopyrightable expression.

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