Real ‘Glee’ Show Choir Director Beats Song Stealing Suit

The real-life New Directions' leader is singing a happy tune following a Thursday decision.
Courtesy of Photofest

The real-life show choir that inspired Fox’s hit series Glee was handed a big win in court on Thursday, but the suit that accuses them of stealing songs isn’t quite dead.

Tresona Multimedia in July sued Burbank High School Vocal Music Association, its board members and its director Brett Carroll for copyright infringement, claiming the show choir was using music without properly licensing it or paying for it. At issue were performances of “Magic,” “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life,” “Hotel California” and “Don’t Phunk With My Heart.”

In a motion for summary judgment, Carroll argued that he is protected by qualified immunity as a public employee and all of the actions at issue were taken in his capacity as a high school music teacher. He also argued that Tresona lacks standing with regard to three of the songs at issue and the claim regarding the fourth, “Magic,” is barred by the statute of limitations.

U.S. District Court Judge Stephen Wilson sided with Carroll on two of the three arguments.

Before addressing whether Carroll has qualified immunity, Wilson examined whether the protection applies to copyright cases.

“There is no binding authority which applies the doctrine of qualified immunity to copyright law,” writes Wilson, noting that while courts have applied it there hasn’t been actual analysis of whether they should.

“This Court agrees that subjecting public officials to an extra lawyer of uncertainty — whether a federal court will find that their role in…