Supreme Court Rejects Bolton Appeal

ByABC News
January 23, 2001, 1:46 PM

January 22 -- Pop singer Michael Bolton took his case to the nation's highest court but got the same answer: no.

The U.S. Supreme Court, without any comment or dissent, rejected a bid by Bolton, co-writer Andrew Goldmark, and their record companies to overturn a $5.4 million jury verdict, which ruled that his song "Love Is a Wonderful Thing" copied parts of another song by the Isley Brothers.

Sony Music, Bolton's music company, was ordered to pay $4.2 million, Bolton was ordered to pay $932,924, Goldmark was ordered to pay $220,785, and their music-publishing companies were ordered to pay $75,900.

The penalty, originally issued by a Los Angeles federal court jury, is the largest reported music-infringement judgement involving a single song.

Bolton, who made his name as a singer of '60s-style soul, scored a No. 1 smash with his cover of Percy Sledge's "When a Man Loves a Woman" in 1991. The same year, "Love Is a Wonderful Thing" reached No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100.

The singer testified that he had never heard the little-known song of the same name recorded by "Twist and Shout" singers the Isley Brothers in 1966.

Harvard University law professor Alan Dershowitz, representing the defense, said the Supreme Court should fashion a national rule in copyright cases that sets one standard "so that creators are aware of the rules and the federal courts can enforce them."

Attorneys for the Isley Brothers said the appeals court correctly applied established legal standards to the facts of the case and that the appeal should be denied.