8 October 2021Copyright

Chris Brown and Drake’s “No Guidance” targeted in copyright suit

Musicians Chris Brown and Aubrey Graham, who is better known as Drake, have been accused of “stealing” their 2019 hit single “No Guidance” from another R&B singer.

Singer Braindon Cooper (performing as Mr Cooper) and his producer Timothy Valentine (who goes by Drum’N Skillz) filed the copyright infringement lawsuit at the US District Court for the Southern District of California on Tuesday, October 5.

As well as the musicians, Sony Music Entertainment, which distributed “No Guidance”, is named as a defendant in the suit.

As noted in the complaint, “No Guidance” was a hit track. It won awards for both Song of the Year and Best Collaboration at the Soul Train Music Awards in 2019, and it was nominated in the category of Best R&B Song in 2020 at the Grammy Awards.

However, Brown’s “No Guidance”—which features Drake—allegedly lifted lyrical and melodic elements from “I Love Your Dress”, a song which was performed in 2016 by Mr Cooper and credited Drum’N Skillz.

According to the complaint, “No Guidance” is a forgery and there is a high degree of similarity between Brown and Drake’s hit track and “I Love Your Dress”. For example, the hook lyrics which are repeated 16 times in “I Love Your Dress” (“she got it; she got it” / “you got it; you got it”) are heard 11 times in “No Guidance” (“you got it, girl; you got it”).

Highly regarded musicology experts have said that both songs use the distinctive sound effect of a “pitch metronome-like click”, Mr Cooper and Drum’N Skillz alleged in the suit.

They said that the tracks are similar “in critical respects that are not just incidental, but rather go the core of each work”.

Mr Cooper and Drum’N Skillz note that they own the common law copyright for “I Love Your Dress”, dating back to 2016. In 2020, the US Copyright Office registered the work (registration number PA0002252931).

According to the pair, “No Guidance” even “mockingly” makes a disguised reference to Mr Cooper, also called Coop, in the song’s lyrics “flew the coop at 17, no guidance”.

Brown and Drake would have had access to the original work by virtue of its online publication and distribution but also through personal connections of those in the music business, as Mr Cooper had previously shared “I Love Your Dress” with a representative based in Drake’s hometown of Toronto.

The complaint said that Brown and Drake were notified of their infringement in 2020 but this correspondence was ignored.

As Brown and Drake have become unjustly enriched at the expense of Mr Cooper and Drum’N Skillz, it would be against equity and good conscience to permit them to retain those benefits, the suit concluded.

Mr Cooper and Drum’N Skillz are seeking damages and no less than 50% of the publishing and other revenues derived from “No Guidance”. They have asked the court to require Brown and Drake to provide a full accounting of their financial records related to the track.

This is not the only time that Brown has been hit with a copyright lawsuit recently. Earlier this year, a UK-based record label accused the musician of copyright infringement, with Brown’s 2017 chart topper “Privacy” at the centre of the dispute.

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More on this story

27 August 2019   A US-based producer has filed a copyright infringement suit against various artists and producers including Drake.
7 July 2021   Musician Chris Brown has been hit with a lawsuit alleging that he infringed the copyright of UK based record label, Greensleeves Publishing, in his 2017 chart topper, “Privacy”.