​Complaining Work

​Defending Work

Joseph Bereal, et al.

“Came to do”

Audio Recording

Omari Ishmael Grandberry, aka “Omarion”

“Post to be”

Audio Recording


Comment by Charles Cronin

This dispute nicely illustrates how difficult it is to establish a colorable claim for music copyright infringement when the works in question are rap songs in which protected expression is mainly limited to words. There is no similarity between the words of these two songs, and the plaintiffs’ allegations of infringement are limited to purported musical similarities. But the complaint’s enumeration of similarities is wide of the mark in that it is nothing more than a list of alleged sonic commonalities between the two songs. These include such utterly generic attributes like “chanted or whispered background vocals”, “claps or snaps”, and “‘Oh’ and ‘oo’ background vocals”.

In a grasping-at-straws effort, the complaint also notes that both songs have similar tempos (98 vs. 97.6 beats per minute — utterly irrelevant information on the question of infringement, even if true). Most remarkable is the claim that the fact that both songs use the minor mode is another indication of copying. In fact, the brief melodic motifs of both songs suggest major, not minor, harmonic mode. The complaint’s suggestion that the defendant’s song was recorded in the extraordinary key of “D-flat minor” — another indication of having copied the plaintiffs’ song recorded in C minor — may engender wry smiles from literate musicians.



Complaint: PDF