Richard Busch is back.
In the past few years, the Nashville-based lawyer represented the Marvin Gaye Estate in its successful copyright infringement case against Blurred Lines and its co-creators, Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke – which ultimately led to an award of almost $5 million.
More recently, Busch has represented Eminem’s publisher, Eight Mile Style, in a lawsuit against Spotify which alleges copyright infringement of hundreds of the rapper’s songs.
Now, Busch is behind a $15m lawsuit against the creators and rightsholders of Juice Wrld’s global smash, Lucid Dreams, alleging that the song has infringed the copyright of the 2006 Yellowcard song, Holly Wood Died.
The lawsuit claims that Lucid Dream’s authors, Juice Wrld (aka Jarad Higgins), Taz Taylor and Nick Mira created the song by copying two other songs, Sting’s Shape of my Heart, and Yellowcard’s Holly Wood Died.
According to the filing from Yellowcard members Peter Mosley, Ryan Key, Sean Wellman-Mackin and Longineu Parson; the defendants, named as Juice Wrld, Taz Taylor, Interscope and others, licensed Sting’s work, but “decided to willfully infringe” Yellowcard’s song.
At the centre of the complaint is the claim that melodic elements in Lucid Dreams were ripped off from Holly Wood Died, and it provides a lengthy analysis of the similarities between the vocal melodies in the two songs.
The filing alleges that the vocals sound not “only substantially similar, but actually go beyond striking similarity in places, and are virtually identical” to a melody used in Holly Wood Died.
States the complaint: “The vocal melody found in the first verse of ‘Holly Wood Died’ and the vocal melody found in the first chorus of ‘Lucid Dreams’ go beyond substantial similarity.
‘The vocal melodies in question constitute essential identifying features of ‘Holly Wood Died’ in both qualitative and quantitative ways. This is especially important qualitatively as the melody shared between the two works constitutes each song’s distinctive recognizable ‘hook’.”
As noted by the lawsuit, Lucid Dreams peaked at No.2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was on the chart for 46 weeks.
As of October 21, 2019, the music video for Lucid Dreams has attracted more than 381 million views on YouTube (see below) and more than 939m streams on Spotify.
The Juice Wrld lawsuit comes amid a backdrop of copyright infringement allegations against hit records: last week, The New York Times reported songwriters Justin and Jeremiah Raisen claim that they are owed a credit on Lizzo’s hit single Truth Hurts.
According to that article, the brothers say that they came up with the idea to include the line “I just took a DNA test, turns out I’m 100% that Bitch” in a song during a writing session with Lizzo.
Truth Hurts’ official list of writers includes Lizzo, producers Ricky Reed and Tele, as well as Jesse Saint John, but not the Raisen brothers.
The New York Times also reported that the brothers revoked an earlier claim for credit via their publisher, Kobalt.
“The Raisens are not writers of Truth Hurts,” said Lizzo’s lawyer Cynthia S. Arato in a statement to NYT.
“They did not collaborate with Lizzo or anyone else to create this song, and they did not help write any of the material that they now seek to profit from, which is why they expressly renounced any claim to the work, in writing, months ago.”
A senior US-based publishing figure told MBW at the BMI Awards in London yesterday: “The old adage of ‘have a hit, see a writ’ has never been more true.”Music Business Worldwide