2 cases and 4 questions + 1 case example

1. (only 2 questions for 1.)

Norton’s Country Corner (Norton’s) is a cowboy bar located in Queen Creek, Arizona. The bar is owned by McDade & Sons, Inc., which is owned 100 percent by Nancy McDade. McDade is its sole officer and director. Live bands play country-and-western music at Norton’s on various nights of the week. Certain copyright owners of music have authorized Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI) to license the use of their copyright songs to broadcasters and to owners of concert halls, restaurants, and nightclubs for live performances of the copyrighted music. BMI attends public performances of music to determine whether any copyrights it is authorized to license are being performed without such license.

One night, a BMI representative attended a live band performance at Norton’s bar and recorded the songs played by the band that night. The audio recording showed that 13 copyrighted songs that BMI was authorized to license were played by the band at Norton’s without the required license. BMI sued McDade & Sons, Inc. and Nancy McDade in U.S. district court for copyright infringement. The defendants argued they had not committed copyright infringement and that copyright law did not apply to owners of small establishments.

Are the defendants liable for copyright infringement?

Language of the Court
The Copyright Act gives the owner of a copyright the exclusive right to publicly perform, or authorize others to perform, the copyrighted work. Any person who violates this exclusive right is an infringer. Lack of authorization is established by the undisputed fact that defendants were not licensed by BMI to perform plaintiffs’ copyrighted musical compositions. Defendants contend that the copyright laws are unfair to small bar owners “struggling to get by week by week.” Defendants seek an exemption from complying with the Copyright Act, but have not cited any authority for such an exemption. The record reflects that defendants’ infringements were knowing and willful.

The U.S. district court held that the defendants had engaged in copyright infringement and awarded $39,000 in damages, attorney’s fees, and costs to the plaintiffs, and issued a permanent injunction against the defendants’ infringement of copyrighted musical compositions licensed by Broadcast Music, Inc.

Critical Legal Thinking Questions
Should small-business owners of bars and other establishments be free from copyright laws?

How many restaurants, bars, and other establishments play copyrighted music without the copyright owner’s permission?

2. Exclusionary Rule
Evidence obtained from an unreasonable search and seizure is considered tainted evidence (“fruit of a tainted tree”). Under the exclusionary rule, such evidence can generally be prohibited from introduction at a trial or an administrative proceeding against the person searched. However, this evidence is freely admissible against other persons.

The U.S. Supreme Court created a good faith exception to the exclusionary rule.13 This exception allows evidence obtained illegally to be introduced as evidence against the accused if the police officers who conducted the unreasonable search reasonably believed that they were acting pursuant to a lawful search warrant.

U.S. Supreme Court, Washington DC
In the United States, suspected criminals are given many rights by the U.S. Constitution and state constitutions. Parties in the United States are free from unreasonable searches and seizures of evidence, and any evidence obtained illegally is considered tainted evidence and cannot be used in court. People who are suspected of a criminal act may assert their right of privilege against self-incrimination and may choose not to testify at any pretrial proceedings or at trial. In addition, if convicted of a crime, the criminal is free from cruel and unusual punishment.

Critical Legal Thinking
Does the exclusionary rule allow some guilty parties to go free?

Is this an acceptable result when balanced against the protections afforded by the Fourth Amendment?

Find and share a case where a person was set free based on unreasonable search and evidence was found? If you cannot find one, try to find a case simlar to the one below.

Case Example: DON’T USE THIS CASE 

David Riley was stopped for driving with expired registration tags. A search of the car turned up two concealed and loaded firearms. The police confiscated Riley’s smartphone and went through it and found gang related information and a photograph of Riley in front of a car they suspected to be involved in a shooting a few weeks earlier. Based on the information retrieved from the cellphone Riley was charged with that earlier shooting, with firing at an occupied vehicle, assault with a semiautomatic weapon, and attempted murder. Riley was convicted of all charges and was sentenced to 15 years in prison. Prior to trial, Riley moved to suppress the evidence the police obtained from his cellphone, alleging that the information obtained from his phone was the fruit of an unconstitutional search in violation of the Fourth Amendment. The court denied Riley’s request. After appeal, the U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari to hear the case.

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