Tulisa sues Will.i.am over copyright disputes

by Redmans on February 14, 2013

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CMU reports that Tulisa is suing Will.i.am over a song that she says that she contributed to but has not been credited for.

The song in question – a duet between Will.i.am and Britney Spears called “Scream & Shout” – is thought to be included on Will.i.am’s forthcoming solo album, “#willpower”. Will.i.am, Jean Baptiste and Jef Martens are credited on the album for the track. However, Tulisa is asserting that the song was initially recorded for her debut album, “The Female Boss”, in collaboration with Jean Baptiste and Jeff Martins but that it was left out of the album for an undefined reason. She claims that she significantly contributed to the record, particularly with regards to some of the lyrics that appeared in the Will.i.am and Britney Spears version. Will.i.am, for his part, states that Baptiste and Martens pulled out of the collaboration and that they had only ever envisaged Britney Spears as the female vocalist on the record.

Tulisa’s intellectual property solicitors are asserting that Will.i.am and his producers have breached the Copyright Design and Patent Act 1988. Tulisa is stating that she owns copyright in “Scream & Shout” and that Will.i.am has infringed (or will infringe, once the album is released) on this copyright by issuing copies of the work or communicating it to the public. The most important hurdle that Tulisa will have to clear here is that she actually possesses copyright in the work. In order to do so she would have to show that:

  1. That there was an appropriate musical work (the “Scream and Shout” song)
  2. That she contributed to the work through her own skill, judgment and individual effort
  3. That she made a least a minimal effort towards the creation of the work
  4. That the work has been recorded (it has)

If she shows the above elements it is probable that she will be deemed to be a significant-enough contributor to the “Scream and Shout” song to be deemed an owner of copyright in the song. She would therefore be entitled to be credited as such on Will.i.am’s discography and would be entitled to receive a (probably contested) share of the proceeds from the distribution and sales of the song. Although it’s not certain as to how the litigation will proceed (or whether it will in fact succeed), what we can be sure about is that there is going to be a relatively vicious legal dogfight over the rights to “Scream & Shout”. Watch this space!

Redmans Solicitors are employment law solicitors and compromise agreement solicitors based in Richmond, London

  • Pete

    Does it not seem that Tulisa is claiming (a) that she is a contributor to the musical work in which copyright exists (which will only run if she did in fact contribute to the composition of the music itself as section 3 of the CDPA specifically excludes the words to be sung from the definition of a musical work); and (b) that she wrote some of the lyrics, in which literary copyright may exist if those lyrics are sufficiently original and if they cross the line set by the Meltwater case for snippets/headlines, etc.

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