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Eagle Hotel California and Copyright, Essay Example

Pages: 1

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Abstract

This paper establishes the legal conditions and arguments showing that Hotel California, Baja, remains innocent of copyright infringement. The following paper outlines these arguments in greater detail with attention to the legal precedents and arguments regarding United States and Mexican copyright and trade laws and the details of the hotel.

Copyright infringement in Eagles v. Hotel California

Although the Eagles’ song, “Hotel California”, remains popular and recognizable, they have no legal grounds for their suit against the Baja hotel of the name on the following grounds:

  • The Eagles released the song “Hotel California” in 1976; Hotel California was established in 1950- long before the song.
  • The Eagles’ attorney, Laura Wystma, vaguely asserts that “defendants led U.S. consumers to believe” in a connection between the hotel and song (Cullins, 2017). Copyright infringement laws- and especially those of artistic works- require strict and easily-detected connections for legal enforcement.
  • The Hotel California does not boast any of the features of the hotel in the song. In fact, the first six reviews on tripadvisor.com (as of August 27, 2020) praise the hotel for its food, sculptures, margaritas, and the “touristy” vibe of Cabo- not for any perceived affiliation between the hotel and the song.
  • One hotel is unlikely to damage the reputation of the song or the musical group. Conversely, the group’s lawsuit seems more likely to create this association than the name itself. The hotel plays Eagles songs, like many other hotels. Since the patent for merchandising trademarks was pending at the time of the suit, the sale of disputed images also remains legally unprotected. Furthermore, since hotel guests must already be present to enjoy the music and merchandise, then the reputation of the hotel itself draws guests– not the other way around. The consumer goodwill precedes any exposure to the Eagles at all, making recognition an afterthought at most.
  • Mexico is not bound by the same exact expectations as the United States. 2018 copyright legislation in Mexico stipulated that infringement occurs if users make or distribute copies, communicate related information to the public, or transform a work without permission (Olivares, 2018). None of these stipulations apply to Eagles v. Hotel California. Cullins’ first header of her article states: “The Baja hotel isn’t affiliated with the famous song” (2017).
  • In July of 2020, Mexico passed new laws regarding copyright infringement and the full clarification of its appropriate use has yet to unfold, and concerns about censorship and human rights have already begun to arise (Electronic Frontier Foundation, 2020). Thus, any such judgments may be subject to quick appeals and a long legislative ordeal wherein the legal fees could potentially outweigh any perceived damages or benefits.
  • While the Eagles balk at a pre-existing hotel of the same name, the song lacks enough concrete details to build a case for the hotel’s reputation being dependent upon the song’s fame. If the Eagles were to argue on those grounds, the band members themselves would owe the hotel money for capitalizing off of its setting. Hotel California, Baja, enjoyed the ambience of the ringing of the bells from the Mission Church of Pilar, rumors and stories of ghosts, and its close proximity to beautiful desert landscapes years before the song’s existence. And any guest can certainly leave.

References

“Electronic Frontier Foundation”. (July 2020). “Mexico’s New Copyright Law: COpying and Pasting USA’s Flawed Copyright System Is a Human-Rights Catastrophe in the Making.” Retrieved from <https://www.eff.org/files/2020/07/31/mexicos_new_copyright_law.pdf>.

Cullins, A. (2017). “Eagles Sue Hotel California for Trademark Infringement.” The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved from <https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/thr-esq/eagles-sue-hotel-california-trademark-infringement-999615>.

Olivares Legal Firm. (2018). “Copyright litigation in Mexico: overview.” Retrieved from <https://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=5efd7e33-8c04-408d-bad4-6038d24ba69e>.

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