The Songsmith and the Tennis Star

Tennis star Anna Kournikova may have met her match in songwriter Black Swann, a.k.a. Christopher Swann. On March 3, Swann filed a copyright infringement suit in Los Angeles California Central District Court, against multiple defendants, in the court case Christopher Jerry Swann v. Anna Kournikova et al.

Swann moved to San Diego from his native Washington, D.C., to play bass with pro-surfer Tom Curren’s group, the Noahs. The band can primarily be found at surfing and environmental events, most recently touring the West Coast as the opening act for the surf film Walking on Water. In his solo guise, Black Swann, he performs as an acoustic, funk-influenced troubadour. In an unusual deviation from the typical coffeehouse fare, he accompanies himself on bass.

Swann alleges that two of his solo songs, “If I Die” and “Only Your Eyes Can Tell,” both from his self-titled 1999 album, were used without permission in Kournikova’s 2002 DVD A Date with Anna – The Making of the Anna Kournikova Calendar. He is seeking a permanent injunction against distribution of the video and punitive damages.

According to the report, Swann had submitted the songs for possible use in the Kournikova project. However, after producers made an offer, he declined to license his music for inclusion in the video. It may be notable that although the music in dispute had already been released on his own album, Swann didn’t copyright the songs until February 2003. Three years later, in February 2006, he bought a copy of the Kournikova DVD and found 22 minutes of his music featured in its soundtrack. The “et al.” in the lawsuit includes the film’s producers, Lions Gate Entertainment and ESPN, which aired the video.

Both Swann and his attorney, Lisa Cervantes, declined to comment on the lawsuit for this story. No one could be reached at Lions Gate. At press time no trial dates had been set.

– Bart Mendoza

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