Songwriter Vs John Legend
A copyright infringement lawsuit has been filed in the U.S. District Court of New Jersey-Newark against Grammy-winning R&B artist and songwriter John Legend in connection with his 2006 album Once Again and his song Maxine's Interlude, which has enjoyed consistent sales and been publicly performed by Legend continuously since its initial release that year. (Docket number 2:11-cv-03849-SDW - MCA, United States District Court, District of NJ-Newark).
The plaintiff, New Jersey songwriter Anthony Stokes, alleges that in 2004, while attending the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, he approached Mr. Legend—then a relatively new artist— after a concert at the college and handed him his "demo" tape, which included Mr. Stokes' original, copyrighted composition entitled, "Where Are You Now."
Mr. Stokes alleges that he asked Mr. Legend to listen to the tape and the performer agreed, but never contacted him after their initial meeting. The suit contends that Maxine's Interlude, which was released as a track on the Once Again album, bears a striking resemblance to Mr. Stokes' song and misappropriates significant elements—both lyrically and musically—of Where Are You Now.
"We are confident that we can prove the two required elements of copyright infringement: first, that Mr. Legend had access to Mr. Stokes' copyrighted work, and, second, that substantial musical and lyrical similarities exist between the two compositions required to prove a claim for infringement under the Copyright Act," said Louis D. Tambaro, Esq., of Red Bank, N.J.-based Marks & Klein, LLP, which represents Mr. Stokes. "We have reached out to Sony and Mr. Legend's representation directly several times in order to attempt to amicably resolve this matter; however, our good faith efforts have been rebuffed. The only alternative with which we are left is to litigate."
Mr. Tambaro continued: "My client had the foresight to properly register his copyright, which entitles him to an award of statutory damages and attorneys' fees, if successful."
This lawsuit comes on the heels of Marks & Klein's high profile copyright infringement lawsuit against the rap artist Curtis Jackson, a/k/a 50 Cent, that was filed in December 2010 and is currently pending the United States District Court, Eastern District of New York.