Lizzo granted motion to dismiss Truth Hurts copyright infringement suit

Credit: Atlantic/press

A copyright infringement lawsuit filed against Lizzo (aka Melissa Jefferson) by three songwriters – Justin and Jeremiah Raisen and Justin ‘Yves’ Rothman – was dismissed by a judge in California on Friday (August 14).

The Raisens alleged last year that Lizzo’s hit Truth Hurts ripped off their own track, Healthy.

In particular, they claimed that they came up with the idea to include the line “I just took a DNA test, turns out I’m 100% that Bitch” (which originated in an online meme) in a song, during a writing session with Lizzo.

According to the dismissal, filed on Friday and obtained by MBW (and which you can read here), “Lizzo argues that the Court should dismiss the Truth Hurts Claims because, as a matter of law, a joint author of one copyrightable work does not automatically gain ownership of a derivative work in which the joint author had no hand in creating.”

Judge Dolly M. Gee, citing case law, upheld a previous Ninth Circuit ruling that “[joint] authorship in a prior work is insufficient to make one a joint author of a derivative work”.

“As a matter of law, therefore, even if Counterclaimants are co-authors of Healthy, they have not alleged any ownership interest in Truth Hurts, which they claim is a derivative work of Healthy,” wrote Judge Gee. “On that basis alone, the Truth Hurts Claims fail.”

Following accusations in the media, Lizzo filed a lawsuit against the Raisens plus fellow songwriter Yves Rothman in October last year seeking to have their claims of copyright infringement declared void.

The suit, obtained by MBW and penned by Lizzo’s lawyer, Cynthia S. Arato, claimed that “defendants Justin and Jeremiah Raisen came out of the woodwork with an illegitimate claim to co-own a piece of the work” and that “Defendant Yves Rothman later lodged his own copycat claim”.

“Neither claim has any merit,” argued Lizzo’s lawsuit. “Lizzo, accordingly, seeks a judicial declaration that the individual defendants Justin and Jeremiah Raisen and Justin ‘Yves’ Rothman did not co-author Truth Hurts, and have no right to co-own that work or to share in its profits.”

The three songwriters then filed a counterclaim against Lizzo in February this year alleging that “the song was anything but Lizzo’s ‘solo performance,’ and Lizzo would never have collected her Grammy Award but for the songwriting and producing contributions of counterclaimants”.

Although Judge Dolly M. Gee granted Lizzo’s Motion to Dismiss the Truth Hurts claims last week, the songwriters (the Raisen brothers and Rothman) have been granted leave to amend their claims.

Judge Dolly M. Gee ruled: “The facts that Counterclaimants set out in their pleading – that the parties created one finished product, Healthy, and Lizzo ‘derived’ or ‘copied’ elements of Healthy to make a second finished product, Truth Hurts — are irreconcilably inconsistent with the facts as the Opposition now conceives them — that, all along, the parties intended Healthy to be merely a part of the process of creating a single finished product, Truth Hurts.”

The Raisen brothers and Rothman’s Amended Answer and Counterclaims have to be filed or, they need to notify the court and Lizzo of their intent not to do file, by September 4, 2020.

Lizzo is then required to her response within 21 days after the songwriters file their First Amended Answer and Counterclaims.Music Business Worldwide

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