​Complaining Work

​Defending Work

Brandon Lee (“Don Lee”) & Glen Demeritt


Audio Recording (as incorporated in “Broad Day” by PuertoReefa / Sakrite Duexe)

Montero Lamar Hill (“Lil Nas X”), et al.


Audio Recording


Comment by Charles Cronin

Plaintiffs’ lawyer has taken a page from the playbook of the Gaye family’s claim against Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams in “Blurred Lines”.  There is no substantial similarity of musical expression between the songs here; in fact one could reasonably argue that there is virtually no protectable musical expression in either work. With no solid musical (i.e., substantially similar melodic, rhythmic, and harmonic expression) commonalities on which to base their claim, the plaintiffs resort to the same approach used by the Gaye family, alleging infringement based on defendant’s use of a similar “constellation of elements creating a substantially similar overall sound and feel.”

Plaintiffs’ Complaint enumerates about 20 purportedly similar musical elements that comprise the “constellation”. The length of the list is impressive, but not its content, which includes no protectable copyrightable elements, even when combined. How about their claim: “Plaintiffs’ Work incorporates an uncommon scale and key in popular music”? What nonsense — the plaintiffs’ work has no meaningful scale or key. The “music” in question is the sound of a few strums on a twanging guitar — a musical convention long used to conjure western landscapes in movies.

One can only hope plaintiffs’ were mistaken in pinning their hopes on the outcome in Blurred Lines, and that the recent decisions favoring defendants in the Katy Perry and Led Zeppelin disputes portend a swift dismissal of this fatuous claim.


Complaint: PDF