​Complaining Work

​Defending Work

Thomas McElroy, Denzil Delano, Jay King

“Why You Treat Me so Bad?”

Audio Recording

Mikkel Eriksen, et al.

“I’m Worth It”

Audio Recording


Comment by Charles Cronin

The plaintiffs allege that the defendants infringed on their song “Why You Treat Me” by copying “key, critical, and distinctive” elements of it. The complaint does not, however, claim that the defendants sampled the plaintiffs’ song. The complaint implies this, nevertheless, by attempting to support its allegation of infringement by referencing information posted on a crowd-sourced website that purportedly identifies instances of sampling among popular songs. Curiously, the posting that the complaint alludes to suggests that the defendants’ number sampled not the recording of the plaintiffs’ song, but of a third number “I Got 5 On It” that the complaint alleges also sampled (presumably authorized) a rhythmic track of the plaintiffs’ “Why You Treat Me”. Unless the plaintiffs can establish that the defendants sampled more than a de minimis portion of their recording, there appears to be no basis for their infringement claim. Any rhythmic commonalities that may exist between the two songs involve unprotectable commonplace rhythmic ideas.

The complaint is ambiguous also on the basis of its claim against EMI April Music to whom the plaintiffs had earlier sold a 50% interest in their “Why You Treat Me”. The parties purportedlyhad negotiated an agreement setting forth their respective rights and responsibility, including those associated with defending the various owners’ copyright. It is unclear whether EMI obtained the right and/or the responsibility to defend the copyright and, if the latter, whether a flimsy basis for a dispute as plaintiffs allege here would trigger that responsibility.



Complaint: PDF