Should Toby Keith Sue Sebastian Mikael?


Should Toby Keith sue Sebastian Mikael?  Have you heard Toby Keith’s 2011 song, “Red Solo Cup?”  Have you heard Sebastian Mikael’s 2013 song, “Red Solo Cup?”

Toby Keith – Red Solo Cup (2011)

Sebastian Mikael – Last Night ft. Wale (2013)

Toby Keith’s Red Solo Cup features the lyrics, “red solo cup, I fill you up” and “red solo cup, I lift you up” always sung to the same melody, an ascending four-note pattern that is the hook:  -3-4-5-8.

The 3-4-5-8 melody is heard sixteen (16) times in Red Solo Cup.

Sebastian Mikael’s Last Night features the lyric, “four shots ago,” always sung to the same four-note pattern as heard in Red Solo Cup, used in all four (4) choruses, and in a similar prominent manner as well:  3-4-5-8.

The 3-4-5-8 melody is heard four (4) times in Last Night.

If both songs use the same pitches but one was recorded and released earlier, shouldn’t the publisher(s) of Toby Keith’s Red Solo Cup sue the publisher(s) of Sebastian Mikael’s Last Night ?

The sixteen (16) statements of 3-4-5-8 in Toby Keith’s Red Solo Cup:

0.32  red solo cup

0.35  I fill you up

0.44  red solo cup

0.47  I lift you up

1.19  red solo cup

1.22  I fill you up

1.31  red solo cup

1.33  I lift you up

2.21  red solo cup

2.24  I fill you up

2.32  red solo cup

2.35  I lift you up

2.44  red solo cup

2.47  I fill you up

2.56  red solo cup

2.59  I lift you up

The four (4) statements of 3-4-5-8 in Sebastian Mikael’s Last Night:

0.46  four shots ago

1.54  four shots ago

2.37  four shots ago

3.40  four shots ago 


To reiterate some of the similarities between Red Solo Cup and Last Night:

Toby Keith sings 3-4-5-8 sixteen (16) times throughout Red Solo Cup.

3-4-5-8 is the hook.

Sebastian Mikael sings 3-4-5-8 four (4) times throughout Last Night.

3-4-5-8 is always an important part of each chorus.

Both songs feature the same four (4) notes –  3-4-5-8.

Toby Keith recorded and released Red Solo Cup well before Sebastian Mikael recored and released Last Night.

Why wouldn’t Toby Keith’s publisher(s) sue Sebastian Mikael?


Are four (4) prominent and clearly-heard notes in common between songs reason enough to instigate a copyright infringement lawsuit?  One answer could be found in comparing this hypothetical (or not) Toby Keith v. Sebastian Mikael music copyright infringement case to the actual Marvin Gaye v. Robin Thicke copyright infringement case in which NO notes were in common between the songs.

If one can sue when the similarity is only STYLE and not melody, surely one is even more likely to sue when the similarity is MELODY and not style.

(Do any/all the tags in this post have any bearing on the merit of this potential copyright infringement lawsuit?)

As always, I welcome your  comments.