Court denies motion by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis to dismiss copyright infringement suit

By Charmaine Little | May 23, 2018

Famous hip-hop duo Macklemore and Ryan Lewis couldn’t convince the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana to dismiss a copyright infringement case against them based on a May 17 opinion.

Famous hip-hop duo Macklemore and Ryan Lewis couldn’t convince the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana to dismiss a copyright infringement case against them based on a May 17 opinion.

The court denied Ryan Lewis’ motion to dismiss the copyright infringement case plaintiff Paul Batiste d/b/a Artang Publishing, LLC filed against him.

Batiste claimed Lewis and Ben Haggerty (recognized as the duo Macklemore and Ryan Lewis) used unauthorized samples of 11 of his songs to make their popular hits "Thrift Shop," "Can’t Hold Us," "Need To Know," "Same Love," and "Neon Cathedral." The defendants' filed a motion to dismiss with the district court.

To rule on the motion to dismiss, the court had to determine if Batiste’s lawsuit meets the three requirements for copyright infringement claims: “valid copyright, factual copying (which requires a showing of either access and probative similarity or striking similarity) and substantial similarity.”

While Batiste met the first requirement and proved he owned the copyright for his original 11 songs in question, the court stated Batiste did not meet the second one as he failed to provide enough evidence to prove factual copying.

For the third requirement, Batiste had to prove the songs were strikingly similar. The court stated Batiste pointed out the similar sounds of the drums, introduction, beat and bass line of his song "Hip Jazz," and the distinctive melody of his song "World of Blues" to the defendants' "Thrift Shop." Batiste also stated "Neon Cathedral" is similar to the hook, melody and chords of his song "Tone Palette." He added the defendants’ song "Can’t Hold Us"  “copies the beat and bass line” of his song "Starlite Pt. 1." The court stated if this was proven true, he would fulfill his requirement to prove the songs were striking and substantially similar.

The defendants requested a “side-by-side analysis” of the pieces of work in question, but the court denied that request and stated its job is not to serve as a “factfinder."

It denied the defendants’ request to dismiss the case and pointed out Batiste satisfied his burden of proof.

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