Judge in Macklemore copyright case excludes report found to be ghostwritten by plaintiff

By Payton Kuhn | May 18, 2019

NEW ORLEANS – Local jazz musician Paul Batiste's lawsuit against the popular hip-hop group Macklemore and Ryan Lewis over allegations of sampling has been handed a setback from federal judge Martin L.C. Feldman as the alleged report from an expert musicologist who was meant to defend the plaintiff has been excluded from the case.

The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana judge found April 10 that the report was mostly created by Batiste and was to be expelled from the suit. The defendants had sought to exclude the report.

Through a series of questioning with musicologist Archie K. Milton in his deposition, it was found that not only did he not “independently create” the report, the ruling states, but also never had any access to the computer programs used to substantiate the claims within the report. Milton himself denied that the report itself was his own original work, and although the two had partly collaborated on the ideas set forth, that he had no means to verify the allegations set forth.

Feldman wrote in the ruling that the report “exceeds the permissible bounds of editorial assistance,” from the plaintiff, and that it must be excluded from the case.

The original lawsuit stems from Batiste’s claims that the chart-topping duo infringed the copyright of 11 original songs, including various passages that were used on the Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ hit song “Thrift Shop,” among other tracks.

Throughout two years since the case was brought forth, Batiste has supplied the court with multiple amended complaints, including the 68-page report allegedly from Milton that was submitted on Nov. 25, 2018. The report itself attempted to demonstrate the similarities between Batiste’s and the duo’s songs throughout the use of “various computer software programs,” the ruling states.

Batiste’s lawsuit against the internationally famous rap group will continue in court, following a series of complaints the plaintiff has levied against popular musicians in the past.

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