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Federal judge hears case claiming Tejano song was copied (w/video, audio)

By Jessica Priest
March 20, 2014 at 11 p.m.
Updated March 20, 2014 at 10:21 p.m.


Lyrics in question

The following lyrics can be heard at the beginning of both "Triste Adventurera" and "Cartas de Amor." It has been argued that the song performed by The Hometown Boys had the letter "s" added onto some of the words.

"Yo tengo en mi poder/Unas cartas de amor/Que tu me la mandaste/Pidiendo compacion"

SOURCE: Attorney David Showalter

Tejano music played for three days inside a Victoria federal courtroom this week.

Judge Gregg Costa is presiding over a case in which one man is claiming a recording studio copied his song about a scorned lover.

As a result, Hacienda Records and Recording Studio is suing the band the man claims performed his song, The Hometown Boys.

Costa decided Wednesday afternoon that if the song had been copied, the founder of The Hometown Boys, Roman Martinez Sr., was not involved.

However, the question about whether Hacienda infringed on the man's copyright still stands.

Costa has asked attorneys to show him previous cases that would support their position by April 9.

The songs in question are "Triste Adventurera" and "Cartas de Amor."

Jose Guzman, of the Corpus Christi Tejano music scene, claims he authored "Triste Adventurera" and copyrighted it in 1974, according to court records.

Martinez, however, got "Cartas de Amor" from another songwriter in Lubbock. The band recorded it in the 1980s using Hacienda's facilities under that songwriter's vision, his attorney, Jim Cole, said Thursday.

The songwriter from whom Martinez claims he got "Cartas de Amor" was not named as a defendant in the lawsuit nor did he testify.

Martinez, who plays both a 12-string guitar and an accordion, said he was happy about the recent ruling, Cole said.

"He felt like his credibility was being attacked and that he was being accused of something he would never do. He's been in this business since the '70s," Cole said of the artist, who is now based in Austin.

A musicologist and music theorist compared the songs and offered different opinions at the trial.

The musicologist did not think the songs were alike, but she couldn't cite another song "in the universe, English or Spanish, that had those same lyrics," said Guzman's attorney David Showalter, of Richmond.

"The opening lyrics are identical word for word," he said.

Guzman is a drummer who has composed anywhere from 20 to 50 songs in his career. "Triste Adventurera" was played thousands of times on the radio in Corpus Christi and in venues Hacienda employees frequented. Guzman turned 92 years old Wednesday, Showalter said.

"He's upset about not being compensated and just trying to leave something for his family," Showalter said, adding that some copyright cases he's proved have netted clients up to $600,000.

Hacienda's attorney, Roland Garcia, could not be reached Thursday for comment, but his position has been that Hacienda did not know about Guzman or hear his song played live or on the radio.

Attorneys say Costa will try to decide both whether Hacienda had access to Guzman's "Triste Adventurera" and whether the two songs are substantially similar.

To read the original complaint, click here.

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