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From R&B to Tejano, Lawyer Wins Music Cases

No matter the musical genre, Roland Garcia has a knack for convincing federal judges that his record company clients haven't violated copyright laws by publishing what plaintiffs argue are substantially similar songs.

In fact, he once persuaded U.S. District Court Judge Nancy Atlas that megastar Beyonce's 2003 R&B hit "Baby Boy" wasn't copied from an aspiring singer's demo tape.

And now he's convinced the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit that his Tejano record company client didn't steal from an old heartbreak song about love letters—even though his client's song contained nearly identical lyrics.

"Cases like this, and even the Beyonce case, are yet another step in the evolution of the law," said Garcia, a shareholder in the Houston office of Greenberg Traurig of his Dec. 14 victory in Guzman v. Hacienda Records.

"It's the dilemma faced by record labels. Someone hears a song on the radio and says, 'Hey—that's my song!' And the record label has never heard of that song," Garcia said. "The legal nuances are important to the record industry. Otherwise, there would be no record industry."

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