A Copyright Infringement Lawsuit Over 2 Words – Everyday I’m Ridiculing
Several friends contacted me via Facebook and email to ask my opinion on this Hollywood Reporter article about Rick Ross’ copyright infringement lawsuit against LMFAO. That was nice of them as I was unaware of this lawsuit but am interested in intellectual property (IP), creativity, originality, how we evaluate expression via law, how law is used to get relief, and other subjects that interpose music and law.
I read the HR article, got the music and listened. My first impression was that I might have the wrong music as there seemed to be not only NO copyright infringement but NO SIMILARITY.
I then read the COMPLAINT filed by Rick Ross’ attorneys. The first sentence in the COMPLAINT that mentions “music” or “lyrics” states the following:
“‘Party Rock Anthem’ copies, interpolates the lyrics, underlying music and beat of ‘Hustlin’…”
I have analyzed Rick Ross’ Hustlin’ (2006) and LMFAO’s Party Rock Anthem (2011). I strongly disagree with the allegations in Rick Ross’ complaint, specifically that sentence, and have drawn a few conclusions to the contrary:
Party Rock Anthem has NOT copied the lyrics of ‘Hustlin’…”
Party Rock Anthem’ has NOT copied the underlying music of ‘Hustlin’…”
Party Rock Anthem’ has NOT copied the beat of ‘Hustlin’…”
Party Rock Anthem’ has NOT interpolated the lyrics of ‘Hustlin’…”
Party Rock Anthem’ has NOT interpolated the underlying music of ‘Hustlin’…”
Party Rock Anthem’ has NOT interpolated the beat of ‘Hustlin’…”
Even though I do not understand the lawyers’ use of English in the sentence above, with respect to the music contained in these two recordings (I don’t understand “copies, interpolates” as back-to-back action verbs), I have made an earnest attempt to understand what the lawyers might have meant and that has led me to arrive at these three (3) additional points:
Party Rock Anthem’ has NOT copied, interpolated the lyrics of ‘Hustlin’…”
Party Rock Anthem’ has NOT copied, interpolated the underlying music of ‘Hustlin’…”
Party Rock Anthem’ has NOT copied, interpolated the beat of ‘Hustlin’…”
There is one (1) similarity I notice between the two (2) songs, however. Both songs/recordings share two (2) identical words. Those words are:
Despite the contention from Rick Ross’ attorneys that the songs ALMOST have three (3) words in common, there are two (2), not three (3) words in common as I will demonstrate below:
Rick Ross sings, “Everyday I’m hustling.”
LMFAO sing, “Everyday I’m shuffling.”
Perhaps Rick Ross’ attorneys think that LMFAO have copied three (3) and not two (2) words. Perhaps they are thinking, “Everyday I’m hustling” is the same as “Everyday I’m shuffling.” But, to my eyes, those final words of each phrase are different words with different meanings and different spellings:
HUSTLING is spelled
SHUFFLING is spelled
“Hustling” and “Shuffling” also have different meanings – here are links to the definitions from Dictionary.com:
Hustling (the verb used by Rick Ross in 2006) means “push or force one’s way.”
Shuffling (the verb used by LMFAO in 2011) means “moving in a dragging or clumsy manner.”
“Pushing or forcing one’s way” (“hustling”) seems to me to be the opposite of “moving in a dragging or clumsy manner” (shuffling”). If one person hustles and another person shuffles, are they engaged in the same kind of action? No, they are not.
The U. S. Copyright Law was created, in part, to protect “original works of authorship.” In my opinion, the word, “everyday” is not original. In my opinion, the word, “I’m,” is not original. When the words are joined to form a two-word phrase – “Everyday I’m” – they still do not form original expression.
To “go all factual on you” for a moment – LMFAO sing “everyday I’m shuffling” (not “everyday I’m hustling”) only twice in “Party Rock Anthem.” This three-word phrase occurs at the following two places in “Party Rock Anthem:”
2.15 – 2.16 “everyday I’m shuffling'”
3.47 – 3.49 “everyday I’m shuffling'” (“shuffling” with a slight elongation/added syllable)
A reasonable person could conclude that:
1. “Everyday I’m shuffling” occurs only twice in Party Rock Anthem.
2. “Everyday I’m shuffling” is not very important to Party Rock Anthem.
3. One had an opinion about Party Rock Anthem well before one heard “Everyday I’m shuffling” at 2.15 into the song.
4. “Everyday I’m shuffling” is not the same phrase as “everyday I’m hustling.”
I toyed with these other titles for this post:
There’s Stupid & Then There’s Rick Ross Stupid
Rick Ross v. LMFAO – So This Is How (these) Florida Attorneys Sue
Why hasn’t Rick Ross sued Maysa, Jeremy Fisher or Little Big?
I’m glad I settled on A Copyright Infringement Lawsuit Over 2 Words.
In my next post or two on this subject, I will discuss some suggestions I have for Rick Ross and his attorneys regarding the music of Maysa, Jeremy Fisher and Little Big. If money matters to Rick Ross and his attorneys, I imagine they’ll be thrilled at what I’ll be able to show them. This new knowledge could lead them to new copyright infringement lawsuits and procure more billable hours for themselves and/or their law firm(s).
But the hand (silly mind) that giveth might taketh away as well as I have potentially bad news for Rick Ross. Using the same or similar reasoning and quality of evidence, in future posts I will describe scenarios and analyze and discuss music that could negate any happy gains Rick Ross might enjoy in his lawsuit against LMFAO. Perhaps Rick Ross himself could even be sued for copyright infringement.
The next post though should be happy happy for Rick Ross.
The points of these posts are simply to examine expression from the viewpoints of originality, creativity and law, and critique musical/textual/legal arguments espoused by others. (I am not a party to this lawsuit or affiliated with any party in this lawsuit. Therefore, I feel it is appropriate to weigh in on the matters presented in this case.)