​Complaining Work

​Defending Work

Roger Troutman

“More Bounce to the Ounce”

Audio Recording

Mark Ronson

“Uptown Funk”

Audio Recording


​Comment by Charles Cronin

The Complaint is a jumbled mess of innuendo and irrelevancies. It opens with portentous, and purportedly incriminating (they’re not) references once made by defendant songwriter Mark Ronson to Roger Trautman, the author of the complaining work. It goes on about the “tradition” of English musicians “copying the musical works of blues musicians” (racist carpetbaggers!), and wraps up with an irrelevant and unproven allegation that the defending songwriter also copied from other parties unrelated to this claim.

The bulk of the Complaint, however, comprises a redundant listing of purported commonalities between the songs that render them substantially similar. But the alleged musical commonalities can be reduced to a short melodic motive played over a brief commonplace rhythm track and predictable chord progression, which is repeated incessantly throughout the plaintiff’s song.

The ineluctable conclusion from the Complaint’s comparative analysis of the two songs is that there is virtually no copyrightable musical expression in the complaining work. The alleged commonalities relate not to musical expression, but more to style and sound (“talkbox”, clapping, guitar). The economic profits of both “More Bounce to the Ounce” and “Uptown Funk” were generated mainly by the recorded sound and style of specific performances of these songs — and sound recording copyright protects this value. In this dispute the plaintiff is attempting two bites at the royalty apple. With the waning residuals from the decades old “More Bounce to the Ounce,” the profitable royalty stream from the stylistically similar recent Trautman hit is simply too tempting a target for a plaintiff with contingency-fee attorneys seeking a handout from Bruno Mars, whose recorded performance of “Uptown Funk” made it so popular and profitable.

Tabloid website TMZ reports that the parties settled this dispute in 2018, but that “it’s unclear if money changed hands.” TMZ also reports Ronson (Defendant) settled an earlier similar infringement claim lodged by a band called “Collage” but there was “no financial component to that settlement.” It also reports that R&B singer Angie Stone, and her band “Sequence” brought yet another infringement claim involving this song, against dozens of defendants, in 2018. (“Have a hit, get a writ!”) Apparently her interest in this claim swiftly waned, and by May 2019 District Court Judge Thomas Thrash [apt name!] dismissed the case based on the plaintiff’s “failure to obey a lawful order of the court.” So, Peter Hernandez (i.e., Bruno Mars) can relax until his next big hit.


Complaint of Lastrada Entertainment: (PDF)