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Copyright claim against Beyonce’s ‘Lemonade’ dismissed

Written by Ellis Sweetenham on 12 October 2016

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In the music industry there has been a surge of claims made against songwriters citing infringement of copyright.

A recent addition to this list was a claim made by Nathan Fulks, against Beyonce, stating that her new album ‘Lemonade’ infringed the copyright protection vested in his work ‘Palinoia’.

Fulks claimed that there were nine visual similarities between his seven minute short film and the film and trailer made to promote ‘Lemonade’.

These similarities were mainly based on the ‘total look and feel’ of the two works as well as some audio similarities.

This claim however was dismissed by U.S District Court Judge Rakoff who went through each detail of Fulk’s claim citing why the similarities highlighted were not enough for copyright purposes.

The Judge who sits in the U.S District Court of the Southern District of New York, also made comments on the differing concepts of the two works, Fulk’s being based on a Caucasian male suffering in the wake of an unexplained failed relationship, with no reconciliation. Whereas, ‘Lemonade’ portrayed an African-American woman’s journey in her relationship through stages of suspicion, denial, anger, and reconciliation.

The fact that the both were in reference to a struggling relationship was not enough to deem them conceptually similar.

Rakoff was so sure of the lack of similarity, he deemed it unnecessary for the case to be heard by a Jury as it was a clear cut case where no jury could find substantial similarity.  

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