Dunbar v. Gottwald (U.S. District Court, N.D. Cal.)

The firm represented clients Tommy Dunbar, co-founder and songwriter for the pop group THE RUBINOOS, and co-writer James Gangwer, in a lawsuit against pop superstar Avril Lavigne and her producer and co-writer Lukasz (“Dr. Luke”) Gottwald for copyright infringement, alleging that the Lavigne/Gottwald song “Girlfriend,” which was a No. 1 worldwide hit song for much of 2007, infringed on The Rubinoos’ 1979 hit song “I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend,” written by Dunbar and Gangwer. The controversy drew wide media attention, and is the first high profile song infringement case known to have been played out on the internet. The controversy engendered dozens of YouTube videos independently created by fans of both sides comparing the two songs, which became the most-viewed videos on YouTube for several weeks, and popular sites such as AOL and TMZ ran internet polls asking users whether they thought Lavigne and Gottwald had copied from the Rubinoos (the majority of both polls said “yes”). The case was settled in December 2007 on confidential terms.