Jul 28, 2017

Beyonce's "Lemonade" Turns Sour In Copyright Claim

Beyonce's legal team has suffered a setback after a Louisiana federal judge denied the singer's motion to dismiss a copyright claim made against her single "Formation" which featured on her 2016 album "Lemonade". The copyright claim comes from the estate of the late social media celebrity Messy Mya, real name Anthony Barre.

Spoken word from Barre can be heard on "Formation". Barre's sister, Angel Barre, claims the spoken word samples infringe two of the aspiring rapper's songs and that Beyonce did not have the permission of Barre to sample his voice. Barre's estate is seeking more than $20 million in back royalties and other damages.

Beyonce's legal team argued that the use of the spoken word phrases constituted fair use and because of this the copyright claim should be dismissed. However, District Judge Nannette Jolivette Brown found in favour of Barre's estate at this initial stage of the claim.

The judge made clear that Beyonce's use of the clips was in no way transformative and the singer had simply used the spoken clips without adding anything extra or new. The judge took the view that regardless of the length of the clips of spoken word used, the overall use by Beyonce was "qualitatively significant".

Beyonce's attorneys' motions to dismiss Barre's complaints of false endorsement and of flouting Louisiana's Unfair Trade Practices Act claims were denied. This means that unless an out of court agreement can be reached, this will now proceed to a trial which would doubtless provide unwelcome publicity for Beyonce. The judge did however dismiss a claim for unjust enrichment made by Barre's estate.

in: Copyright, EU/International, News

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