Richardson v. Kharbouch (2019) 

“French Leave” by” French Montana”? Music Producer Eddie Lee Richardson (“Hotwire the Producer”) alleges “French Montana” made a literal copy of a sonic arrangement he had posted online and used it as the background for his “Ain’t Worried About Nothin'” (apparently, and extraordinarily, a highly popular number despite its racially offensive words).  

Smith v. “The Weeknd” (2019)

A trio of British songwriters alleged that “A Lonely Night,” by RnB artist The Weeknd, copied their song “I Need to Love.” The Weeknd attempted to have the suit dismissed, but the court denied the motion and instead required the defendant to respond to the complaint. Could this be another case creating more “Blurred Lines” for the music industry? Only time will tell.

New Day Worldwide v. Taylor Swift (2019)

New Day Worldwide, owner of all works written by singer-songwriter Jesse Graham, filed a complaint against Taylor Swift alleging Swift’s “Shake it Off” infringed upon Jesse Graham’s “Haters gone Hate” lyrics. New Day Worldwide alleges Swift’s lyrics “Cause the players gonna play, play, play[;] And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate” appropriated Graham’s copyrighted lyrics “Haters gone hate[,] Haters gone hate, Playas gone play Playas gone play, watch out for them fakers- they’ll fake you everyday[.]”

Key, et al. (“Yellowcard”) v. Higgins, et al. (“Juice WRLD”) (2019)

William Key of Yellowcard filed suit against Jarad Higgins, a Chicago rapper also known as Juice WRLD, New Day Worldwide, for allegedly infringing upon melodic elements from Yellowcard’s “Holly Wood Died”, including the vocal melody.

Jefferson v. Raisen, et al. (2019)

Detroit singer Lizzo wants a federal judge to declare that brothers Raisen are not co-writers of her hit song Truth Hurts. Despite drawn-out attempts to settle this dispute quietly, hostilities have crescendoed quickly with one of the Raisen brothers airing the matter on Instagram, and Lizzo’s attorneys valiantly responding in other media. 

Brandon Lee (“Don Lee”), et al. v. Hill (“Lil Nas X”), et al. (2019)

Two Atlanta-based producers filed a complaint against novelty-rap-star-turned-revolutionary Lil Nas X and his collaborators over one of their latest releases, alleging they infringed upon a beat and chord progression they created for use in another hip-hop track.

Brighter Sky Productions LLC, et al. v. Marriott International, Inc., et al. (2018)

Rocket Boys shooting for the sky, legally speaking. The authors of the musical “Rocket Boys” have sued Marriott over its stage adaptation of Universal Pictures “October Sky” alleging infringement of music, lyrics, and scenes of their work.

Nicholas v. Pigott, et al. (2019)

Plaintiff Samuel Nicholas claims Defendants A. Pigott (“BlaqNmilD”), Aubrey Drake Graham (“Drake”), et al. infringed upon a “beat” he authored called “Roll Call (Instrumental)”. BlaqNmilD’s “That beat” has featured in several songs he co-produced for Drake and Big Freedia, which may potentially result in liability for many parties named in the complaint.

Andrew Green v. Kanye West (2019)

A young girl’s adoptive parents hoping for a windfall from Kanye West. This performer, in his song “Ultralight Beam”, incorporated a snippet of a recording taken by the child’s biological mother, of her gesticulations and prayerful exclamations in excitement over an upcoming road trip to Atlanta.   

Weems v. Odd Future Records (2018)

A curious and confused claim of infringement of a musical work based on what may have been defendants’ sampling of an insignificant portion of a recorded performance of the work, which was made prior to establishment of federal copyright protection for sound recordings in 1972.

Platinum Jack Entertainment v. ESPN and Chick-Fil-A (2018)

The Complaint is refreshingly concise, but it appears to be so mainly because it offers no factual bases for its sweeping and ambiguous allegations of copyright infringement.

Del Rio v. Virgin America, Inc. (2018)

Remarkable: the circumstances in this case are atypical of music copyright infringement disputes, and this claim appears to have merit. Think twice before booking a flight on Virgin Atlantic.

Ciero v. Disney (2017)

“Frozen” — I have muddled recollections of seeing it play repeatedly on the seat back screen of parents with children during an interminable flight to LAX… Read Niall Fordyce’s comment for a musically and legally sharp discussion of this dispute and its merits and/or demerits.  

Abdul Muhammad (Erik Saunders) v. Chancellor Bennett (2017)

Another embarrassing Complaint that makes sweeping allegations of infringement, including defendant’s unauthorized public display (?!) of the plaintiff’s song, with nary a word of factual support grounded in information about musical similarity.

Griffin v. Ed Sheeran, et al. (2017)

The songs in question are by Marvin Gaye and Ed Sheeran, respectively. Like the recently filed claim by Harrington against Sheeran (see below) Griffin’s claim lacks merit, and appears to be merely a “copycat” claim instigated by the recent success of Gaye’s heirs in their dispute with Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams.

Lastrada Entertainment v. Mark Ronson, et al. (2017)

This claim is based on nothing more than a few stylistic similarities, but it does offer one the guilty pleasure of watching and hearing Bruno Mars’ cool and slick performance of “Uptown Funk”.

Sean Hall, et al. v. Taylor Swift, et al. (2017)

A dispute not about music but about defendants’ use of a few words similar to those used by the plaintiff: “playas” (not referring to beaches), “haters”, etc. that apparently hold ambiguous and far-ranging meanings to young pop music fans.

Golden Crown Publishing v. Sony Music, Jonathan Smith [aka “Lil’ Jon”] et al. (2017)

“Turn down for what?” For failure to state a claim… Better yet, “turn them in” — the plaintiffs that is, for bringing nuisance suits like this one that waste taxpayer money in hopes of extracting a monetary settlement from deep-pocketed defendants.

Abiodun Oyewole v. Rita Ora, et al. (2016)

Another infringement claim based not on any musical commonalities, but merely the defendant’s similarly repetitive use of the indelicate expression “party and bullshit”.

Alisa Apps v. Universal Music, et al. (2016)

Poor pop singer John Newman — another embodiment of the aphorism “Have a hit, get a writ”. In this case a claim based on the fact that his breakout number “Love Me Again” used the commonplace phrase “I need to know” that an aspiring singer in Las Vegas once also used.

BMG v. Atlantic Recording Corporation, et al. (2016)

This claim of infringement involving two rap songs is based on alleged musical similarities of tempo, harmonic mode, “syncopated rhythms”, etc. Even if the allegation of this constellation of similarities were true, the musical attributes in question are so elemental that permitting one party to monopolize a particular combination of them would lead to further perplexity and inhibition on the part of songwriters.  

Erik Smith v. Jiroux (2016)

An unusual dispute involving questions whether defendant’s work qualified as a “cover” of the plaintiffs’ under the Copyright Act’s compulsory license provision, and whether informal email and personal exchanges regarding permission to use plaintiffs’ protected expression could be the basis of an express or implied license.

Gabor Presser v. Kanye West (2016)

The defendant’s motion to dismiss suggests that the plaintiffs’ attorneys may have been unclear about the importance of registration formalities under the 1909 Copyright Act. An interesting dispute involving not a question of substantial similarity, but of equity and statutory compliance. 

Tom Petty v. Sam Smith (2015)

Superannuated rocker’s exaction of profits from an independently created song by Sam Smith.

Barobax v. Chakroborty et al.(2012)

An interesting case between an Iranian band and a Bollywood musician associated with the Agent Vinod action” series.  From Barobax’s documents it appears that Chakroborty sampled the plaintiff’s work, and was heavily influenced by it.  Curiously — regrettably? — plaintiffs withdrew their claim when the defendant threatened criminal charges against them.

Eight Mile Style [Marshall Mathers, aka “Eminem”] v. Audi GmbH (2011)​

Mather’s claim that Audi’s advertisement — obviously derivative of one Mathers earlier participated in for Chrysler — infringes on his protected expression.