Beyoncé Next Artist Hit With Copyright Lawsuit

March 8, 2017
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Even talent agreements with the entertainment industry’s most well-known recording artists aren’t safe from copyright infringement lawsuits.

Messy lawsuit

A federal lawsuit filed in a New Orleans courthouse in early February is aimed at superstar Beyoncé—and is seeking damage claims of $20 million, The New Orleans Advocate reported. Angel Barre, sister of now-deceased Anthony Barre, also known as “Messy Mya” is the plaintiff on the copyright infringement case.

Messy Mya made a cameo appearance on Beyoncé’s video of her song ‘Formation’ which was released last year. Mya was killed in 2010 after leaving a baby shower in the 7th Ward of New Orleans, and the Advocate reported that many fans saw his inclusion in the video as an homage to the rapper revered by his hometown.

Barre asserts in her lawsuit that Beyoncé used Mya’s, “voice, performance and words from his copyrighted works to create the tone, mood, setting and location of the New Orleans-themed ‘Formation’ video and audio recordings.” This all supposedly comes without permission from Barre, who is the sole heir of her brother’s estate, the Advocate reported.

Hip Hop DX, though, has reported that Mya’s vocals don’t appear on the hour-long film or actual album, “Lemonade.” His cameo, with that of New Orleans rapper Big Freedia, was limited to a brief video shown during the National Football League’s big game in 2016, where Beyoncé performed with Bruno Mars.

Barre is requesting $20 million in damage, royalties and writer, producer and composer credits, according to the Advocate.

Common occurrence

Copyright infringement cases targeting the music industry elite are turning into the norm, rather than the exception. With the courts having less of a grip on what constitutes copyright infringement and there being increasing uncertainty as to what types of fair use should be deemed legal, people from all ends of the Earth are taking to the courts to get their worth.

In 2015, Marvin Gaye’s family won a $7.3 million settlement from Pharrell and Robin Thicke for their copyright infringement on “Blurred Lines,” which reportedly stole a number of aspects from Gaye’s 1977 hit “Got to Give it Up,” according to the Rolling Stone.

A copyright infringement lawsuit can be incredibly expensive to file and keep going, but lucrative if the evidence proclaims the plaintiff worth of remuneration. Both parties will need lawyers with years of experience in the field, as knowing past results related to your particular case is often a remedy for success.

Time is of the essence for those who think another artist stole their work. According to the Graphics Artist Guild, the average statute of limitations, depending on the state, is around three years. Getting the evidence into the hands of your attorney and his or her team is essential in building a clear-cut case before you bring it to court. There may be no trickier lawsuit in entertainment law than a copyright infringement because of the legal complexities that surround it, so preparation is any plaintiff’s best bet.