New Legal Troubles for Ariana Grande and "7 Rings" - Fordham Intellectual Property, Media & Entertainment Law Journal
26297
post-template-default,single,single-post,postid-26297,single-format-standard,ajax_fade,page_not_loaded,,select-theme-ver-3.3,wpb-js-composer js-comp-ver-6.1,vc_responsive
 

New Legal Troubles for Ariana Grande and “7 Rings”

New Legal Troubles for Ariana Grande and “7 Rings”

Last fall, IPLJ staff member Dori Morris wrote about Ariana Grande’s efforts to obtain the licensing to for her song “7 Rings.”1 Grande’s latest hit was nominated for two Grammys and brought in over $10 million in revenue.2, making it one of her top hits. While negotiating the licensing issue mentioned above may have seemed like the last of the singer’s legal problems pertaining to this specific song, a new lawsuit was filed on January 16 in the Eastern District of New York.3

The lawsuit was brought by singer Josh Stone, who alleges that Grande ripped off the chorus of his track “You Need It I Got It” for her song “7 Rings.”4 The complaint by Stone’s lawyer, Tamir Young, goes on to state that “two different musicologists concluded ‘7 Rings’ likely copied the choruses and hooks from ‘You Need I Got It,’ with one finding 39 respective notes from the songs to be ‘identical.’”5 The complaint also states that the co-defendant, Thomas Lee Brown, who has worked with Grande on five of her albums, was present in meetings Stone had with Universal Music Group when he played “You Need It I Got It.”6 Stone is requesting a declaratory judgment of copyright infringement, which would enjoin the defendants from future acts of infringement.7 The complaint also requests actual damages and profits from the infringement or statutory damages.8 But in a statement to CNN, Young makes it clear this is about more than money—it is about protecting artists and their works.9 Young states, “Josh’s song was taken and used without his consent, without his knowledge and without a license. Many people made a lot of money on Josh’s work. And that is wrong.”10

There have been a multitude of recent lawsuits similar to the one at hand, including by Marvin Gaye’s children against Robin Thicke for “Blurred Lines” and by Marcus Gray against Katy Perry for “Dark Horse.”11 Late 2019 also saw an appeal of the case against Led Zeppelin for allegedly stealing the opening to “Stairway to Heaven,” in which the trial court ruled for the defendants Robert Plant and Jimmy Page.12 The 9th Circuit heard the case en banc and a decision has not been published yet.13 Some even believe this Led Zeppelin case may go all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, making it the first time the Supreme Court would decide a music plagiarism case.14 Another suit against Ed Sheeran for his song “Thinking Out Loud” has been postponed until the Zeppelin decision comes down.15 Thus, with this most recent copyright infringement case, it will be interesting to see how the Eastern District approaches the issue and whether the 9th Circuit decision will factor into the Grande suit. Overall, it seems to be a very interesting and possibly precarious time for the music industry in terms of music plagiarism.

 


  1. Dori Morris, Ariana Grande Gives Up Millions in Royalties to Obtain License For “7 Rings”,  Fordham Intell. Prop. Media & Ent. L.J. (Oct. 17, 2019), http://www.fordhamiplj.org/2019/10/17/ariana-grande-gives-up-millions-in-royalties-to-obtain-license-for-7-rings/ [https://perma.cc/C2FV-SUQG].

  2. Colin Cohen, Ariana Grande Faces massive Copyright Infringement Lawsuit Over 7 Rings, Digital Music News (Jan. 20, 2020), https://www.digitalmusicnews.com/2020/01/17/ariana-grande-copyright-lawsuit-7-rings/

  3. Chris Eggertsen, Ariana Grande Accused of Ripping Off 7 Rings Chorus in New Copyright Lawsuit, Billboard (Jan. 20, 2020), https://www.billboard.com/articles/business/legal-and-management/8548286/ariana-grande-7-rings-copyright-lawsuit [https://perma.cc/BNW8-NZXL]

  4. Id.

  5. Id.

  6. Id.

  7. Id.

  8. Id.

  9. Lisa Respers France, Ariana Grande Sued For Copyright Infringement Over 7 Rings, CNN (Jan. 20, 2020), https://www.cnn.com/2020/01/17/entertainment/ariana-grande-7-rings-suit/index.html [https://perma.cc/4JXP-6HFQ].

  10. Id.

  11. Eggertsen, supra footnote 2.

  12. Ben Sisario, Original or Copied? Stairway to Heaven is Back in Court, N.Y. Times (Jan. 20, 2020), https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/22/business/media/stairway-to-heaven-copyright-appeal.html [https://perma.cc/W4QA-39S2].

  13. Id.

  14. Amy X. Wang, Why All Your Favorite Songs Are Suddenly Being Sued, Rolling Stone (Jan. 20, 2020), https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-features/katy-perry-led-zeppelin-ed-sheeran-music-lawsuits-865952/ [https://perma.cc/SLE3-M9Q8].

  15. Id.

Savannah Madley

Savannah Madley is a second-year J.D. candidate at Fordham University School of Law and a staff member of the Intellectual Property, Media & Entertainment Law Journal. She holds a B.A. in Political Science and International Studies from the University of Alabama.