​Complaining Work

​Defending Work

Josh Stone

“You Need It, I Got It”

Audio clip

Ariana Grande

“7 Rings”

Audio clip


Comment by Charles Cronin

It’s always disappointing to hear of “settlement” in disputes like this one (see District Court Order below) because it invariably signals that defendant determined the most economical and efficacious response to an infringement allegation was not to demonstrate its groundlessness, but simply to throw a financial tidbit at an opportunist plaintiff to make him go away.

The complaint (below) presents a good bit of language culled from the plaintiff’s so-called “musicology experts” — neither expert has a PhD in musicology – but it appears the attorney drafting the complaint either did not quite comprehend the “experts’” statements, or deliberately isolated them from their larger contexts. Given the plaintiff’s reliance on these reports, it is telling that they were not appended to the complaint.

For instance, the complaint asserts: “Dr. Sadoff, after performing his Musicological Research and Analysis, found that “…probative of copying, it is my conclusion that the music and lyrics present in the Hook and Chorus sections of ‘7 RINGS’ would likely not have been composed without prior knowledge of ‘You Need It, I Got It’.” Or: “Dr. Sadoff demonstrates (and illustrates with sheet music) that 7 RINGS has “identical metrical placement of the paired phrases.” Note, however, that the complaint does not claim “Dr.” Sadoff opined that the defendant impermissibly copied any of plaintiff’s protectable musical expression.

Perhaps that is because — although whoever drafted the complaint was likely unaware of the fact – plaintiff’s work comprises virtually no protectable original musical expression. Only the collocation of words of his oeuvre – conjuring hackneyed racist and misogynist tropes typical of this genre…and so enticing to the suburban white adolescent male demographic to which it is catered – might be protectable. But the only verbal expression that might have contributed to whatever appeal the song may have generated, is a refrain involving a riff or two on the commonplace expression: “you want it; you got it” which is not protectable!


Complaint: PDF

Court Order Dismissing the Case upon Settlement: PDF