“Simply listening to the songs, as the law requires, reveals their utter lack of similarity,” wrote U.S. District Judge Marvin Aspen in his decision to dismiss the lawsuit. Lady Gaga’s legal battle started back in 2011 when a Chicago singer Rebecca Francescatti sued the pop star alleging Gaga plagiarized parts of her 1999 song “Juda” for Lady Gaga’s hit “Judas” released in 2011.
In a copyright infringement case, the court looks at whether the defendant had access to the plaintiff’s work and how similar the works at issue are. Further, it typically requires less evidence supporting similarity with more evidence showing the access. Here, Judge Aspen acknowledged that both singers worked with Brian Gaynor, a recording engineer, at different times; however, he found insufficient evidence of substantial similarity between the two songs.
He found that while the plaintiff’s song is “more lyrical, slower in tempo and is a recorded live performance by its composer,” the defendant’s song is “an EDM [or electronic dance music] sound recording created with synthesized sound and other pieces of digital audio files.” In addition, he noted that “the songs do not have common lyrics, the themes are different . . . .” The only similarities were the titles and four similar notes, according to the decision.
Noting how difficult it is for the plaintiffs to win in cases like this, Rolling Stones highlighted one case where the judge ruled for the plaintiff: the Chiffons case. The Chiffons sued George Harrison for copying the melody of their “He’s So Fine” in his “My Sweet Lord.” The Chiffons won and got paid $500,000.