Atlanta based rap artist Nayvadius Wilburn, known professionally as ‘Future’, has successfully defended a copyright claim in relation to his song “When I Think About It” in a Chicago federal court. Future was sued by fellow rapper Gutta in 2021, who accused Future of copying his song “When U Think About It”.
Gutta alleged that he sent copies of his song to rapper Doe Boy, who is signed to the same label as Future, and producer Zaytoven, who later produced Future’s track. Future’s song was then released in 2018 on his “Beastmode 2” mixtape. Gutta subsequently accused Future of copying his song, citing the shared themes of money, guns and jewellery as evidence of the alleged copying, as well as the similarity between the song titles.
The case was dismissed by the judge, who ruled that none of the individual elements raised by Gutta as evidence of copying were entitled to copyright protection and that in any event the aspects taken as a whole amounted to nothing more than “small cosmetic similarities” between the songs.
The trial judge ruled “First and most critically, the phrase ‘when you think about it’ or ‘when I think about it’ is not entitled to copyright protection. It is a fragmentary expression that is commonplace in everyday speech and ubiquitous in popular music.” The judge also stated that the themes of guns, money and jewellery were common within rap music, referencing songs by Notorious B.I.G, Wu-Tang Clan and Kanye West as similar type examples.
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