Docket No. 2:20-cv-07649 (C.D. Cal. Aug. 21, 2020)
Comments by Ha Huynh
Three years after the release of the Grammy Award-winning song Loyalty by Kendrick Lamar, songwriter Terrance Hayes brought suit against the rapper for copyright infringement of his song with the same title. Hayes’ complaint presents a plausible argument of access by defendants to Hayes’ Loyalty track and remix. Hayes asserts that his tracks were accessible to co-producer and co-defendant, who had a close working relationship with Martin, co-writer and -producer of Lamar’s Loyalty.
The plaintiff supports his claim with a visual comparison of the two tracks. From it lay observers can readily identify the same song title, genre and subject matter of the two tracks. But Hayes’ visual comparison also demonstrates significant similarities between melodies and chord progression between the two works, suggesting that the only significant difference between the two songs is the slower speed of Lamar’s Loyalty which was achieved by altering Hayes’ work using a sound synthesizer.
Assuming the validity of Hayes’ allegations of access, and accepting the accuracy of his claims of musical similarities among the tracks, his allegation appears to have merit. Hayes, however, dropped the suit in late 2020, and it is unknown whether the two parties brokered a financial settlement in this action.