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Greenberg Traurig’s Roland Garcia Obtains Victory in a Copyright Case Involving Tejano Music

HOUSTON – Dec. 18, 2014 – The international law firm Greenberg Traurig, LLP has successfully defended a Corpus Christi record label and recording studio, Hacienda Records and Recording Studio, among others, in a federal lawsuit steeped in the lore and history of popular Tejano music in Texas between the 1970s and the 1990s. Roland Garcia, a litigation shareholder in the firm’s Houston office, led the legal team on this case. Corpus Christi has been described as the epicenter of Tejano music during the relevant time period.

Hacienda Records was sued by a musician/composer who claimed that Hacienda had infringed on the copyright of his song “Triste Aventurera” (“Sad Adventurer”), composed and recorded by plaintiff in the early 1970s. Hacienda Records recorded and released a song called “Cartas de Amor” (“Love Letters”), performed by the Hometown Boys of Lubbock in 1990. The plaintiff sought actual and statutory damages of $1.2 million, claiming his song was infringed upon by Hacienda’s 1990 release, but following a bench trial the Court denied any relief to plaintiff.

Judge Gregg Costa of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, sitting by designation as judge of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Victoria Division, found that the two songs, like many Tejano songs, have similar lyrical themes, rhythms and instrumental accompaniment, and are not unique or complex songs. He ruled that, although the two songs had some elements in common, “Cartas de Amor” was not “strikingly similar” to “Triste Aventurera,” and thus the plaintiff was required to prove that Hacienda Records had a reasonable possibility of access to the plaintiff’s song before Hacienda Records released “Cartas de Amor.” The judge then ruled that Hacienda Records did not have access to plaintiff’s song, specifically ruling that the plaintiff had not shown that Hacienda Records knew of “Triste Aventurera” when Hacienda Records released “Cartas de Amor” at least a decade later.

“This was a hard-fought case,” commented Rick Garcia, executive vice present of Hacienda Records, “and we are extremely pleased with this successful result.”

Roland Garcia has tried lawsuits in state and federal trial courts, and has argued appeals in state and federal appellate courts. He has handled many high profile cases and has been quoted regarding these cases by The National Law Journal, Houston Chronicle, Dallas Morning News, Austin-American Statesman, Corpus Christi Caller Times, Texas Lawyer, and others.

Garcia has handled a wide range of commercial litigation cases, including matters involving claims for breach of contract, non-competition agreements, trade secrets and copyright infringement. Additionally, Garcia has considerable experience in local, state and national governmental relations and political matters, and in government contracts, grants, procurement, concessions, open records and public information act demands, and due process challenges.

Active in the legal profession, Garcia was the first minority to be elected president of the Houston Bar Association, the fifth largest voluntary bar association in the country, with more than 11,000 members. He also served as president of the Texas Young Lawyers Association, an elected position of the 22,000 member statewide lawyers’ organization. Garcia was president of the Hispanic Bar Association and president of the Dispute Resolution Center. He was also an elected director of the State Bar of Texas, and was a trustee of the Texas Bar Foundation.