Beyoncé Faces $20 Million Copyright Infringement Lawsuit

Copyright Protection
Image Credit: © Paul Fleet |
Image Credit: © Jaguarps |

Beyoncé has been sued by the estate of Anthony Barre (stage name “Messy Mya”) for allegedly lifting portions of “Booking the Hoes From New Wildings” and “A 27 Piece Huh.” The copyright suit claims that the superstar sampled the late musician’s voice and lyrics in her song “Formation”. Barre’s estate claims that it “received nothing… no acknowledgement, no credit, no remuneration of any kind” in spite of attempts to reach the multimillionaire artiste, Forbes reports.

Queen Bey is being sued for royalties, alongside Sony Music and W.B. Music Corporation who are named in the suit. Mya’s sister who is suing for her brother’s estate is seeking proper credit “as a writer, composer, producer and performer.”

“Barré’s estate alleges in its complaint that “Defendants’ willful infringement  [Barré’s work] has harmed the Estate of Anthony Barré because, among other things, Anthony Barré was not properly credited for his contributions to ‘Formation’ and ‘Lemonade.’”

The plaintiffs filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, and claim ownership of a number of “protectable copyright interests, both in the musical composition and the sound recording, to Anthony Barré’s original and unique works of performance art,” including “Booking the Hoes from New Wildings.”

Barre’s estate further asserts that “[t]he proper licensing … would not have only generated substantial revenues, but it would have generated international recognition for Anthony Barré’s performance works and as contributor to a worldwide hit song. Instead, Anthony Barré’s family had to sit by and watch Defendants receive acclaim, and compensation without any of the proper recognition being received, as it should have been, by Anthony Barré.”

The estate now seeks more than $20 million “in back royalties and other damages” “in connection with Beyoncé’s alleged unauthorized usage of Barré’s copyright protected works.”

It is worthy of note that Mya was tragically murdered in 2010 in New Orleans. Could Queen Bey be paying homage to Mya in “Formation” and could the court hold that she was simply making a political statement by the inclusion of Mya’s voice? Could a fair use defence under section 107 of the US Copyright Act protect the superstar or would she simply decide to settle the matter out of court?

We eagerly await the resolution of this thrilling copyright lawsuit.

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About Ezeudo Maduka 7 Articles
Ezeudo Maduka Esq. holds a Bachelor of Laws from the University of Nigeria Nsukka, a licence to practise as Barrister and Solicitor of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, a Master of Laws from the University of Uyo, and a diploma in copyright from the Harvard Law School and Berkman Centre of Internet and Society. He has been a practising lawyer for the past 7 years and a law lecturer at the Abia State Polytechnic Aba, Abia State. His research interests orbit the intersection of copyright law and the Internet; digital piracy; anti circumvention of technological protection measures; protection of digital works, and other areas within intellectual property law and practice in the 21st century.