Lane v. Carter et al., No. 14-cv-6798 (SDNY filed 10/21/15) [Doc. 51].
Plaintiff's claim, alleging that he gave a copy of his song XOXO to one of Beyonce's background singers and that Beyonce infringed the song when she created the song XO, was dismissed pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) and 8(a). First, the Court found that although Plaintiff holds a copyright registration for the lyrics to XOXO, the registration excluded rights to the music which was the sole basis of the copyright claim. Moreover, even though Plaintiff alleged that he was an exclusive licensee, he did not allege that hte licensor had a valdily registred copyright. Accordingly, the claim was dismissed for lack of standing.
Even though that was potentially curable on an amended pleading, the Court found then considered whether a copyright infringement claim was otherwise substantively viable. The Court then underwent a "substantial similarity" analysis of: (1) "the beat" and the songs to determine whether the similarities between the two songs concern copyrightable parts of XOXO and whether a reasonable and properly instructed jury could conclude that there is substantial similarity. The Court found that the use in both songs of "a common four-bar phrase" would not establish substantial similarity between them. Additionally, comparing the songs holistically, the Court found that no reasonable jury could find the lyrics of XOXO substantially similar to XO. Aside from thef act that both songs' lyrics use the letters X and O, "there is virtually nothing common to the two song's lyrics" (emphasis in original). Moreover, the lryics of the two songs have no word in common, save ubiquitous words like "I," "you," your," "is," and "baby." The themes were also different. Next, as to the music, the Court listened to the two song and found litte, if anything, in common. The Court, accordingly, dismissed the complaint with prejudice.