Doo-Wop Ditty Is a Joint Work, 7th Circuit Rules

     (CN) – The 7th Circuit overturned a $100,000 jury award given to a Hammond, Ill.-based songwriter who claimed she was the sole author of a doo-wop song used by the Lake County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

     Cheryl Janky, who was part of the band Stormy Weather, claimed she wrote the song “Wonders of Indiana,” hoping the bureau would use it in their campaign to promote the area. She obtained a copyright in May 1999, listing herself as the jingle’s only author.
     But her band mate, Henry Farag, suggested changes to the song, which Janky made. She then filed a new copyright in December and listed Farag as co-author.
     Janky claimed during her successful trial that she did not intend to give Farag credit as co-author, but instead put his name on the registration form “as an indication of (her) gratitude … and to demonstrate that (she) appreciated every bit of support.”
     Farag testified that the changes were “significant,” and that revisions were also made to the melody.
Janky also claimed she owned the song outright, and that the bureau could no longer use it. The bureau fired back, claiming co-author Farag had given it clearance to use the song.
     In determining that it was a jointly owned work, the Chicago-based appeals court hinged its decision on Farag and Janky’s intent.
     “Farag wielded considerable control over what the song finally looked like,” Judge Evans wrote. “One could even say he demanded the changes.”
     The panel concluded: “This doo-wop ditty is a joint work.”

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