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Leniency for Man Convicted of Drugging, Raping Wife; Estate of Song Writer Sues Led Zeppelin for Copyright Infringement; Judge Orders Psych Exam for Pistorius; Satellite Data to be Released

Aired May 20, 2014 - 12:30   ET


MANDY BOARDMAN, REPEATEDLY RAPE BY HUSBAND IN HER SLEEP: What I would tell him is that you can go ahead and you can give that sentence, but I will continue to fight over it, because it's not right. It's not just. I will fight it till the end.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Has your husband ever apologized to you for this?


BROWN: All right, Mandy, thank you for being on the show. Thank you so much for having the courage to come on. Hopefully, even though you didn't get the outcome you wanted, you have helped a lot of women out there who are also victims of rape.

Mel Robbins, Paul Callan, stick around, we have more to discuss, because there's a legal case brewing over one of rock 'n' roll's most iconic songs and accusations of plagiarism.

Listen to this, the opening guitar riff of Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven."

So there you heard it. Now, let's take a listen to this clip of a song from a group called Spirit. Does it sound the same? The answer to that question could end up being decided in court. The legal view on that, just ahead.


BROWN: It's primary day in some key states. In so many, it's a test of the tea party's ability to remain relevant. At stake is control of the Senate. Republicans have their best chance of winning back the majority since they lost it back in 2006.

Senate Democrats have a slim majority right now. The balance of power changes if they lose six seats this year.

If you were hoping to see California Chrome go for horse racing's Triple Crown, you and the horse can breathe a little easier. He arrived at Belmont Park in New York a short while ago and will allowed to wear his nasal strips to help him breathe. So does he smell victory? If he wins, he'll become the first horse to win the Derby, the Preakness and the Belmont since 1978. Just can't help but play off those nasal strips.

All right, so Led Zeppelin fans, brace yourselves. Let me play a tune for you, and I'm sure you're going to recognize it.

As most of you know, that's "Stairway to Heaven," of course, one of rock's greatest anthems. It's classic, timeless, quintessential. The adjectives go on and on. But dare I add "stolen" to the list?

Jimmy Page says he wrote it in a cottage in Wales back in 1970, but a lawyer representing the late Randy California, whose band toured with Led Zeppelin in '69, says Page stole the opening riff.

Listen to this.

So that was the band Spirit. The song is "Tourist." Sound familiar?

Joining me now is CNN legal analyst Paul Callan and Mel Robbins. I know a lot of fans would be heartbroken if this turns out to be an infringement case.

I'm going to start with you, Paul. How can they file this lawsuit? It's been decades since the song was released. What about the statute of limitations here?

PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: That's a great question. Just to give you an indication as to how old this song is, this is what I looked like when the song was in circulation in the 1970s.

OK, the song came out --

BROWN: Love it, Paul.

CALLAN: I tell you, I had hair at that time, and I enjoyed every moment of it. And, yeah, so how can we go back to the 1970s now and bring this lawsuit? Well, normally, you have to bring such a suit within three years of becoming aware of the copyright infringement.

There is, however, some case law in some courts that have said if the song is in current circulation, you can go back three years to the amount of time that it's being circulated. And that's the exception they're using. They're saying it's still being circulated, so we have the right to get three years of damages, not damages all the way back to 1968 or 1970. So that's the theory they're using.

BROWN: Really interesting.

Mel, I want to go to you, because Randy California, who, his relatives claim, actually was the one to write this song, he's died. He didn't bring forth a copyright infringement case. So do you think it's fair that his relatives are suing now?

MEL ROBBINS, CNN COMMENTATOR: Absolutely. Because his relatives have property rights in the royalties that he would earn, and that's big money.

And basically what's happening is all they have to prove is that Led Zeppelin, the band, had access to the song and that they copied elements of the song and made something substantially similar.

And here's what's interesting, Pamela. It's not the test, legally, based on what an expert says. It's basically if an ordinary person thinks that these songs sound similar, and they certainly do. I'm getting post-traumatic stress flashbacks to junior high and the last dance, every single, you know, weekend that they played.

But that's all they have to prove, that an ordinary person believes that it's substantially similar and that they had access to it.

And, you know, interestingly, Pamela, there have been four other charges brought against Led Zeppelin for four other songs that have settled, and they've given co-credit status to the writers in those cases, so I wouldn't be surprised if we see a similar result here.

CALLAN: You know, Pam, the "Business Week" article that was written about this case, they actually went out on the street and played the Led Zeppelin song to a group of about 50 people.

And -- rather, they played the other song, the song that was infringed, the Spirit song, and 18 of them immediately thought it was Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven," so that's kind of a good proof that the average person would think that that is "Stairway to Heaven."

BROWN: Yeah, that is telling. And the fact that this band, the Spirit band, actually toured with Led Zeppelin, probably adds to the family's case.

All right, thanks so much, Mel Robbins, Paul Callan. We appreciate it.

ROBBINS: Great to see you, hon.

CALLAN: Thank you.

BROWN: You, too.

All right, now let's move on to another big case we've been following. The Olympic athlete accused of murder in the shooting death of his girlfriend will have to be evaluated by a psychiatrist, and it could keep him out of jail.

The LEGAL VIEW on that, just ahead.


BROWN: One of the hardest defenses to mount and among the least successful is the sanity defense.

In an unexpected twist, it could be just the thing to keep Oscar Pistorius out of prison for the shooting death of his model girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. Oddly enough, the Blade Runner doesn't claim he was insane or mentally ill when he shot her. It was the defense's psychiatrist who testified he suffered from GAD, generalized anxiety disorder.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, people with GAD are extremely worried about things when there's little or no reason to worry about them. In order to be diagnosed, it has to go on for at least six months.

Now, in Pistorius' case, he claims he was so worried about an intruder he shot and killed Steenkamp by mistake.

The defense psychiatrist didn't go so far as to say he was mentally ill, but says the anxiety diagnosis alone was enough for the prosecution to ask the judge for a mental evaluation. The judge ruled in favor of it, and today, she laid out her order.

Robyn Curnow tells us what experts evaluating Pistorius will have to consider.


ROBYN CURNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Is Oscar Pistorius criminally responsible for his actions? What was his mental state on the night he shot and killed his girlfriend? Well, a judge has now ordered him to go for psychiatric observation.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The accused present himself as an outpatient to the medical superintendent of the Vetcorpus (ph) Hospital on 26 May 2014 at 9:00 in the morning.

CURNOW: Now the fact that the judge has ruled that Oscar Pistorius is an outpatient is critical. It's also very unusual, say experts I've spoken to. Normally people are sequestered, locked away essentially, for those 30 days while they are assessed. Instead, Oscar Pistorius will be able to clock in and out of this institution between 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. during the weekdays. He'll be able to have contact with his lawyers, his family and his friends.

However, during those hours, he will be assessed by a panel of psychiatrists and a clinical psychologist. And they'll present a report to the court at a later stage. And at stake, they have to either agree or disagree with the defense psychiatrist's testimony. Basically she said on the record, on the stand, that Oscar Pistorius has an anxiety disorder, is vulnerable because of his amputations, and that might have had some bearing on how he acted that night.

Robyn Curnow, CNN, Pretoria.


BROWN: Thank you for that, Robyn.

A bizarre case of road rage. Police have charged a surfer and model with attempted murder after she hit an elderly woman with her car and allegedly tried to hit her again. Details on this case coming up. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: This news just into CNN. Hundreds of retired pro football players are suing the NFL, claiming the league, and I quote, "created a culture of drug misuse, substituting players' health for profit." Specifically, the players claim the league used painkillers to mask player's injuries. CNN has reached out to the NFL and the Players Association for comment but we have not heard back.

Meantime, General Motors has announced another round of recalls. The Detroit automaker is recalling another 2.4 million vehicles and will take an additional $200 million charge on its books. This comes after GM just agreed to pay a $35 million fine to the U.S. government over a delay in recalls of bad ignition switches which were linked to 13 deaths.

And our next story sounds like a TV drama. Set in Hawaii, a model charged with attempted murder in a bizarre crime involving a 73-year- old victim. CNN's Kyung Lah has the story.


JILL HANSEN: I'm a surfer girl.

KYUNG LAH, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Jill Hansen appeared to embody the carefree surfer life. Full-time surfer, part- time sportswear designer, seen here wearing her own swim line. Part- time model, even inspirational speaker. She spoke four years ago about her belief in the power of God at a TED ex (ph) conference in southern California.

HANSEN: If there's a God, show me a sign right now. And that very second, and I just got goose bumps, a drop of water on my head inside my car on a perfectly sunny day with no water anywhere, on the crown of my head. Super natural baptism.

LAH: But there appears to be nothing godly about what Honolulu Police call her apparent act of road rage. Police say Hansen followed 73- year-old Elizabeth Conklin, then waited until she got out of her car. Police say Hansen then struck her with her car. It's not known why. Conklin told "Good Morning America" she doesn't remember the moment she was hit.

ELIZABETH CONKLIN, VICTIM: I got out, and then all of a sudden I woke up in an ambulance.

LAH: Conklin's life may have been saved by a bystander would smashed the back window of Hansen's VW after the first alleged strike. He says it looked like Hansen was preparing to strike again. Just a few hours after the incident, Hansen posted this message on her Facebook page, announcing she was becoming a professional surfer. Later that day, police arrested her.

Hansen has more than a dozen infractions on her record, many of them driving related, as well as the a temporary restraining order filed by her own father. He wrote his daughter, via Facebook, "was soliciting someone to come murder me."

LAH (on camera): Hansen did make an initial appearance in court. She didn't say anything to the judge. She didn't say anything to her lawyers. She did appear somewhat disheveled and she did wave farewell to someone as she was led back into custody. Bond remains set at $1 million. Her preliminary hearing is Wednesday.

Kyung Lah, CNN, Los Angeles.


BROWN: What a bizarre story there.

Tonight, in Porterville, California, about 80 miles south of San Francisco, people plan to voice outrage over the mayor calling out bully victims, saying they should grow a pair.


MAYOR CAMERON HAMILTON, PORTERVILLE, CALIFORNIA: I'm against bullying, but I'm getting (EXPLETIVE DELETED) tired of it being used as a mantra for everything that ills the world when all most people have to do is grow a pair and stick up for them (EXPLETIVE DELETED) selves.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, it's hard -

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is that a quote or -



BROWN: Wow. The mayor was referring to a program to confront bullying proposed by a city council member.

All right, now to new developments involving the missing Malaysia Airlines plane. Families of passengers have been begging authorities to release that raw radar data in hopes of finding anything that might help them locate their loved ones. Will that data give them any answers. We're going to talk about it right after this break. Stick around.


BROWN: Seventy-four days and still no physical trace of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. But soon the world will see for the very first time a very big piece of the puzzle. Malaysian authorities and the private firm Inmarsat are promising to release the raw satellite data that has focused the search on the Southern Indian Ocean right off Australia. I'm joined now by former air accident investigator and CNN safety analyst David Soucie to discuss this.

David, if you could, just break it down for us. Why is this raw data so important, and why the holdup in releasing it?

DAVID SOUCIE, CNN SAFETY ANALYST: Well, the reason it's so important is because it's the only way to verify by outside eye whether or not the calculations that were used to instigate the search are accurate or not. So by having this data, we've worked with several people through communications with Michael Eisner (ph), for example, who's a satellite specialist. And he'll be able to look at that data if they give all the meta data. Now, remember, there might be more data that they need than what's being given. So there might be a little bit of delay there as well. But I think we'll be able to get everything that they need over time.

BROWN: Do you expect some wildly different theories to come from this?

SOUCIE: Oh, absolutely, speculation will just run wild.


SOUCIE: So I would beg that people that are reading this, following this story, rely on the experts. Don't just - you know, there's going to be tweets and everybody knows this. All of a sudden we'll have all kinds of satellite experts out there.


SOUCIE: But there's only a few that I have credibility with and that they have credibility with me and that's Michael Esner and his group and I think that they're going to do a great job of coming up with what the real answer is.

BROWN: David, there has been so much back and forth in this case. You know, as recently as last week, Malaysia said it was up to Inmarsat to release the data. Inmarsat said it was up to the Malaysians. Is this investigation still as speckles (ph) as it ever was?

SOUCIE: You know, it seems like it is. And here's what I think is the biggest problem is that the International Civil Aviation Organization, which is the aviation branch of the United Nations, they're supposed to set the standards. Now, the problem is, they really don't have enforcement. So when Malaysia doesn't do what the rules dictate, or any other country, they can't really step in and do something about it. So ICAO's invited me to go out and speak with their president tomorrow in Montreal. He's from Nigeria. It's Dr. Aliu. And I hope to have a really good conversation with him tomorrow morning. And I'll be reporting with that tomorrow afternoon with you.

BROWN: Sounds good. We will be continuing the conversation then. Thank you so much, David Soucie. We appreciate it.

And thank you for watching. Great to have you with us. "Wolf" starts right now.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Right now, six states, one of the busiest days in the primary calendar. It all equals high stakes, control of the United States Senate.

Also right now, smoke fills the air.