Bolton Loses "Love" Appeal


Supreme court upholds $5.4 million judgment against Michael Bolton and Sony
Posted Jan 24, 2001 at 12:00am
The U.S. Supreme Court refused to overturn a $5.4 million jury verdict that found Michael Bolton, a co-writer and their label guilty of lifting parts of a song by the Isley Brothers for his hit "Love Is a Wonderful Thing." The damages are reported to be the largest music infringement judgment concerning a single song.

Despite support for Bolton from the Recording Industry Association of America, the nation's highest court did not offer any comment in rejecting his appeal, which was co-filed with songwriter Andrew Goldman and Sony Music.

The original verdict, handed down by a jury from a Los Angeles federal court, found that Bolton's 1991 hit violated the copyright of an obscure Isley Brothers song of the same name that the group recorded in 1966.

In his defense, Bolton contended that he never had heard the song by the Isley Brothers and insisted he was not guilty of the infringement. The jury rejected Boston's request for a new trial, and a federal appeals court later upheld the ruling. At one point, Bolton went so far as to attempt to buy the Isley Brothers' catalog last year, so he could eradicate the debt.

Of the damages that the jury awarded the Isley Brothers, Sony Music was ordered to pay just over $4 million. Bolton was hit with more than $900,000 in damages, Goldman, more than $220,000 and their respective publishing companies $75,900.

Written by JAAN UHELSZKI
for RollingStone.com News

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