​Complaining Work

​Defending Works

Abiodun Oyewole

“When the Revolution Comes”

Audio Recording

Rita Ora

“How We Do (Party)”

Audio Recording

Christopher Wallace (aka “Notorious BIG”)

“Party and Bullshit”

Audio Recording

Marshall Mathers (aka “Eminem”) & Trevor Smith (aka “Busta Rhymes”)

“Calm Down”

Audio Recording

 

Comment by Charles Cronin

This dispute devolves to the question whether the brief and inelegant phrase “party and bullshit” is copyrightable expression. According to the complaint (below) the plaintiff has exclusive rights to this locution because he used it repeatedly in his song “When the Revolution Comes.” The plaintiff did not coin or first record this expression, which he had undoubtedly heard others use earlier. Accordingly, even if such a brief verbal snippet were deemed copyrightable, any protectable interest of the plaintiff associated with the phrase depends upon the originality of the context in which he uses it. The defendant’s number, like the plaintiff’s repeats the phrase in a sing-song mocking style, but surely no one should be allowed to monopolize a sequence of five otherwise non-copyrightable syllables simply by repeating it and performing it in a particular manner?

 

In March 2018 US District Judge Alison Nathan dismissed the case finding that the plaintiff did not effectively serve the defendants with his claim. To discourage further procedural wrangling on the question of insufficient process by the plaintiff she also ruled that, even assuming the expression in question is protectable, defendant’s copying of it was permissible fair use.

 

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Complaint: PDF

Opinion by Judge Alison Nathan: PDF