Roberts v. Gordy, No. 13-cv-24700 (S.D. Fla. dated Sep. 15, 2015).
In a dispute between the alleged owners of the song "Hustlin'," whose chorus repeats the phrase "everday I'm hustlin'," and members of the group LFMAO who sell merchandise bearing the phrase "everday I'm shufflin'," a phrase from their hit song "Party Rock Anthem," the Court held that the isolated phrase "everyday I'm hustlin'" is not copyrightable. The Court noted that "copyright protection does not automatically extend to every component of a copyrighted work," and that "the overwhelming authority is that short phrases or common or ordinary words are not copryightable." It was indisputable that the plaintiff's "Hustlin'" composition and lyrics was an original creative work subject to copyright protection -- but, the question was whether the use of a three-word phrase appearing int he musical composition, divorced from the accompanying music, modified, and subsequently printed on merchandise, constituted an infringement of the composition. "The answer, quite simply, is that it does not." Moreover, the defendants set forth various evidence that the terms "hustling" or "hustlin'" have been used in numerous songs prior to Plaintiff's creation of "Hustlin'" and that at least one song pre-dating "Hustlin'" has the exact lyric "everday I'm hustlin'" in it. Lastly, the Court was unable to find any basis or precedent supporting the conclusion that a short, modified, set of words printed on merchandise can infringe on the copyright for a musical composition. Plaintiff's rights do not extend that far, the Court concluded.