Ira B. Arnstein

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Ira B. Arnstein
Ira B. Arnstein.jpg
Ira B. Arnstein from Musical Observer
BornApril 12, 1879
DiedSeptember 13, 1956
ResidenceNew York City
Occupationsongwriter, composer

Ira B. Arnstein (born Itzig Arenstein April 12, 1879 - September 13, 1956) was a musical composer, songwriter, and "chronic litigator."[1][2]

Arnstein was born in Litzingen Russia (now Letychiv Ukraine) the son of Bernard Solomon Arnstein and Sophia (Sophie) Kozovoc. He emigrated to the United States when he was eleven.[2] He studied piano at Scharwenka Conservatory in New York. He composed mainly "parlor piano pieces and Yiddish songs" once writing a Jewish national anthem entitled Soldiers of Zion.[3][4]


Arnstein suffered from "copyright infringement persecution mania," always certain that others were stealing his work.[2] Arnstein sued Cole Porter, Irving Berlin and Twentieth Century-Fox, among others, for copyright infringement.[5] He picketed ASCAP after being rejected by them for membership. In 1937 he launched a major lawsuit against twenty-three composers and publishers simultaneously and lost them all.[1] In 1941 he sued Broadcast Music International for not only rejecting his application but also for allegedly stealing the music he submitted with his application.[1] In 1946 the Second Circuit court granted Arnstein’s appeal in a suit against Cole Porter.[6] The jurors were directed that in order to find infringement, a "two-pronged test" must be used.[7]

  1. a plaintiff had to show that the defendant had copied him (using charts or other diagrams)
  2. the plaintiff had to show that the copying was so extensive that it counted as infringement; a layperson must be able to hear the copied songs as essentially similar

Arnstein lost that lawsuit and had to pay Porter's legal fees.[8] He never won any of the many cases he filed.[9]


  1. ^ a b c Crain, Caleb (2013-04-30). "A Professional Victim: On Ira B. Arnstein". The Nation. Retrieved 2019-01-02.
  2. ^ a b c de Brie, Tim (2006-05-05). "Composers Classical Music :: Arnstein, Ira B". Retrieved 2019-01-02.
  3. ^ Rosen, Gary (2013-01-22). "Plagiarized or original: A playlist for the contested music of Ira B. Arnstein". OUPblog. Retrieved 2019-01-02.
  4. ^ "Soldiers of Zion Jewish national anthem". The Library of Congress. Retrieved 2019-01-02.
  5. ^ "(I've Got a Gal in) Kalamazoo Steyn's Song of the Week #309". Steyn Online. Retrieved 2 January 2019.
  6. ^ "Full Text of Arnstein v. Porter, 154 F.2d 464 (2d Cir. 1946)".
  7. ^ "5 Copyright Cases Every Songwriter Should Be Aware Of". hypebot. 2007-02-22. Retrieved 2019-01-02.
  8. ^ "Arnstein v. Porter". H2O Classroom Tools. 1946-02-11. Retrieved 2019-01-02.
  9. ^ Rosen, Gary (2012-06-01). "Unfair to Genius: Popular Music and Copyright Law in the Age of the Songwriter". Gary Rosen. Retrieved 2019-01-02.

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