Not How Any Of This Works: Mariah Carey Sued Over Title Of Song

Jaime E. Love


from the copyright-grifting dept

You could have heard that, on Friday, Mariah Carey and Sony Tunes ended up sued by a male named Andy Stone (rather certain a various Andy Stone than the just one who leads communications for Fb) for allegedly infringing on his music “All I Want For Christmas, Is You.” What you may not have heard is that this is maybe the dumbest, most absurd copyright lawsuit I’ve seen in ages, and I see a ton of actually dumb copyright lawsuits. You can browse the nine-web site lawsuit yourself, and marvel at the fact that two attorneys actually place their names on a complaint so frivolous. My largest question is whether or not the legal professionals or Stone will conclude up paying the lawful costs of Carey and Sony, not to mention the sanctions towards the legal professionals.

Let us get the basics out of the way initially. The two songs are various. The only similarity is the title. That is it. There is no copying. This isn’t a Blurred Strains sort of circumstance wherever the tracks seem kinda comparable. They’re entirely unique songs. The only matter they have even remotely in frequent is the name. I hesitate to url to both tune, due to the fact the Carey tune is definitely ubiquitous and entirely unavoidable all through the vacation time, and it must be a criminal offense to hear to it before Thanksgiving. As for the Stone tune, launched by Stone’s change ego Vince Vance and the Valiants, there’s a big portion of me that wonders if this is all just an abuse of the legal procedure to try to get some focus to his possess music. But, for the sake of completeness, here’s the Carey variation, introduced in 1994, and here’s the Stone/Vance version, produced in 1989.

So, the music are completely distinct. The tunes is distinctive. The music style is different. The lyrics are diverse. The title is the exact, and I guess you could argue that the “theme” of the songs are the exact same, but there is no copyright in the theme that a track is about. That is not a thing. Underneath US copyright legislation, you are unable to copyright “words and short phrases this kind of as names, titles, and slogans.”

And, even if you could magically make the title protected by copyright — and you simply cannot — Stone would have a greater issue, since soul singer Carla Thomas produced a tune with that very same title, created by Andrew Charles “AC” Wiliams, in 1963. You can listen to that one particular much too, if you want. It also has the identical title and “theme” and came out a lot more than two and a 50 percent a long time in advance of Stone’s song. So if Carey’s edition in some way infringes on Stone’s (it does not), then Stone’s would always infringe on the Williams/Thomas song.

Of training course, which is not how any of this functions, and even a halfway good copyright attorney would notify you that. Nevertheless, Stone’s attorneys, Douglas Schmidt and Andrew Abrams, do not look to be midway decent copyright legal professionals. They appear to be unquestionably terrible legal professionals.

Pretty much every section of the grievance is a difficulty. It is almost as if Schmidt and Abrams didn’t even want to set in the bare minimal amount of hard work to file a grievance. It is submitted in federal court docket in Louisiana. Why is Louisiana the ideal venue? The criticism does not say. The grievance admits that none of the functions is a resident of Louisiana (Stone is the closest, but he’s in Mississippi). The only exceptionally weak argument they make, which is not just about plenty of to make Louisiana the venue, is that Sony Tunes is “authorized to do and carrying out company in the Condition of Louisiana.” That’s not ample to argue jurisdiction.

They then assert that Stone’s track is copyrightable subject matter make a difference, which, confident, it is. But they never allege (because they cannot) that Carey’s tune copies any of Stone’s tune (due to the fact it did not). Also, this is not a big deal, but they claim that the copyright registration was submitted as Exhibit A when it seems they forgot to actually file it. The docket on PACER exhibits no these exhibit, while I’ll give them the advantage of the doubt that the song was basically registered. But, unless of course they can show that a copyright-guarded component of the tune was copied in an infringing fashion, there is no genuine grievance here, and Stone’s attorneys never even test to claim that!

This is essentially the extent of the argument in the complaint:

Defendants under no circumstances sought or acquired permission from Plaintiff to use “All I Want for Xmas is You” in producing, reproducing, recording, distributing, providing, or publicly carrying out said song.

Plaintiff under no circumstances gave Defendants permission, consent, or a license to use “All I Want for Christmas is You” for any reason, which includes the generation of a derivative work based on “All I Want for Christmas is You”.

Except… they didn’t want to receive authorization mainly because they didn’t duplicate anything at all. I mean, this is standard stuff that even non-copyright lawyers comprehend.

In the particular copyright claim, they argue:

Plaintiff became knowledgeable of Defendants use of his perform “All I Want for Xmas is You”,
without having license, proper or authority, and by reproducing and distributing to the globally common
community by using the world wide web and interstate commerce. Plaintiff’s counsel in the beginning created speak to with
Defendants in April of 2021 to regarding the unauthorized use of the song. Thereafter, Plaintiff’s
counsel sent a letter by way of accredited mail on or about December 20, 2021, pertaining to the unauthorized
use of “All I Want for Xmas is You”, thereby placing them on notice that the generation a
derivative do the job, without authorization and payment to Plaintiff represents a violation of Plaintiff’s
legal rights beneath 17 U.S.C. Sections 106, et seq.

But, once again, which is not how any of this works. Nowhere is any copying ever alleged, due to the fact it just cannot be.

There is also the difficulty of the statute of limitations. There is a a few year statute of limitations on copyright, but the Supreme Court has resolved this implies that even if you miss out on the initial three calendar year window, you can still sue for the most latest three yrs. So, if there was infringement — which once more, I truly feel the will need to remind you, there is not, nor is any essentially alleged — then they could be suing more than the most modern a few years of infringement.

The complaint doesn’t even seem to admit this and just asks for $20 million pounds for “willful copyright infringement, in addition to punitive damages and payment for the damages.” He’s not obtaining that. And given that less than copyright law it is significantly much easier for a defendant to get plaintiffs to address attorneys’ costs for frivolous litigation, it appears to be decently probably that Stone may perhaps be on the hook for the top rated flight legal professionals that Sony and Carey are likely to toss at this.

Oh, and I guess I need to mention that Stone’s attorneys make two other claims right here: just one for unjust enrichment, and one particular for Lanham Act violations. Neither 1 is effectively pled, mainly because it would be difficult to plead both in any qualified method, but listed here the legal professionals yet again really do not even do the bare minimum amount, and in essence just “on information and facts and belief” their way via a bunch of nonsense.

This is a terrible complaint. It really should be thrown out. Stone ought to have to fork out Carey and Sony’s lawyers, and it seems like there’s a good possibility that Stone’s legal professionals could confront Rule 11 sanctions for filing these types of a foolish, badly drafted, bullshit lawsuit.

Submitted Below: all i want for xmas is you, andy stone, copyright, louisiana, sanctions, music titles, vince vance

Organizations: sony songs


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