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Kanye Cleared of Copying
Highest Court N.D. Illinois
Year Ended 2011
Plaintiffs Songwriter(s)
Defendants Monopoly, John
Rock-A-Fella Records
UMG Records
West, Kanye
Other No Other parties on file
Short Description It is common in the hip hop industry for demo-tape submissions to cause lawsuits, often because the submitter believes recipients ripped off the songs sent in; such cases are normally entirely frivolous. The allegations in this case are a bit more convincing, though the complaint was, in the end, dismissed. Plaintiff is a songwriter who communicated with Kanye West's producer and record label executive, John Monopoly, who agreed to act as Plaintiff's executive producer for an upcoming recording. Among the songs transmitted to Monopoly was a song called "Stronger," which employed the classic cliche, "what doesn't kill me makes me stronger," rhymed with a line about not waiting any "longer" and the word "wronger" (which is grammatically-correct). When West released an immensely-popular song employing this same rhyming trio, Plaintiff sued for copyright infringement. Though the court found both that West had ample opportunity to hear Plaintiff's song and that the above-mentioned elements of the songs were indeed similar, and furthermore that both songs contained an odd reference to Kate Moss, none of the similarities pertained to protectable (e.g. copyrightable) elements. Thus, even if West did indeed copy Plaintiff's song, the elements copied included a common public domain maxim and several obvious rhyming words. Plaintiff was unable to show "fragmented literal similarity," a doctrine accepted in some circuits, because West's song contained no identical phrases to Plaintiff's. Since the musical accompaniment in the two songs were very different, the lyrics were the only feasible basis for Plaintiff's complaint. Therefore, Plaintiff's case failed. - LSW

Legal Issues
Copyrights Infringement Copying & Distribution/Dissemination


Opinions Peters v. West
97 U.S.P.Q.2d 2019 / 2011 WL 831137
N.D. Illinois , March 03, 2011 ( No. 10 C 3951 )


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Related Searches Parties
Monopoly, John ( Defendant )
Rock-A-Fella Records ( Defendant )
Songwriter(s) ( Plaintiff )
UMG Records ( Defendant )
West, Kanye ( Defendant )

Legal Issues
Copyrights / Infringement / Copying & Distribution/Dissemination

Courts
N.D. Illinois (highest court)


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