Sound Engineering Expert Witness Testimony Not Allowed

Plaintiff filed copyright suit against defendants.  Plaintiff hired a Sound Engineering Expert Witness to provide testimony.  Defendant filed a motion to exclude this expert from testifying.  The court granted the motion to exclude.

Facts:  This case (Batiste v. Lewis et al – United States District Court – Eastern District of Louisiana – April 10th, 2019) involves a breach of copyright claim.  The plaintiff accuses the defendant of copyright infringement of eleven original songs.  The plaintiff sued the defendants, alleging that they infringed on his copyrights by using unauthorized samples and by copying elements of eleven of his original songs in the composition of numerous songs, including Thrift Shop and Can’t Hold Us.  The plaintiff has hired Sound Engineering Expert Witness Archie K. Milton to provide testimony.  The defendant has filed a motion to exclude this expert from testifying.

Discussion:  Milton’s report purports to analyze elements of copying and digital sampling and to demonstrate similarities between the defendants’ and the plaintiff’s musical works using various computer software programs.  The defendants seek to exclude Milton’s reports as they contend that the report was ghost-written by the plaintiff.

The plaintiff admits that he collaborated with Milton in producing the report but insists that he did not write the report for his expert.  Thus, the court notes that the issue is whether Milton was sufficiently involved in the drafting of his expert report such that it was prepared and signed by the witness.

The court opines that Milton testified that none of the analysis in the 68 page report was the product of his original work and that it was all created by the plaintiff.  Even though Milton stated that he and the plaintiff collaborated on the report, he did not identify any portions that were drafted by him.  In addition, the court opines that the report sets forth analyses generated by computer programs to which Milton did not have any access.  Thus, Milton was not able to verify the accuracy of the plaintiff’s work.

The court opines that the plaintiff provided the substantive content and musical transcriptions that are central to the conclusions in the report.  The court also notes that Milton provided mere editorial assistance.  Thus, the court opines that Milton’s report should be excluded.

Conclusion:  The motion to exclude the expert witness report of Archie K. Milton is granted.