Beyoncé’s fair use bid against copyright claim
Written by Ellis Sweetenham on 21 April 2017« Return to Reading Room
Pop sensation Beyoncé has hit a bump in her rising music career in the form of a $20 million copyright claim.
The claim is in relation to her controversial hit ‘Formation’ which was debuted at the Super Bowl in 2016. The song was part of one of the biggest albums of the year, Lemonade.
Not long after the release of the song, the estate of deceased US rapper Anthony Barré, known when performing as Messy Mya, brought the huge copyright claim against Beyoncé and Sony Music.
The claim stated that ‘Formation’ misappropriated statements from Barré’s YouTube videos including the phrase ‘what happened at the New Orleans’.
The claim sought damages including any profits which is believed to be in the excess of $20 million.
In the motion to dismiss filed by Beyoncé and Sony, it was stated that not had one of the defendants Pretty Bird, obtained a license from Barré’s family for use of the videos, but the use of ten or fewer seconds of the video audio is protected by the fair use doctrine.
As a defence to copyright infringement, the US fair use doctrine allows use of copyright protected works if it is a limited use and there to comment upon, criticise or parody.
It is yet to see if the fair use argument will be successful but it is interesting to see how it will pan out. Fair use is not a doctrine in the UK but the UK equivalent Fair Dealing may be set in new light following the case.
Definitely one to watch!
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