19 August 2020CopyrightMuireann Bolger

Lizzo staves off ‘Truth Hurts’ copyright infringement suit

In a win for singer songwriter  Lizzo, the  United States District Court for the District of California has dismissed a copyright infringement lawsuit against her on Friday, August 14.

Last year, three songwriters Justin and Jeremiah Raisen and Justin ‘Yves’ Rothman claimed on social media that her Grammy award-winning song “Truth Hurts” had been copied from their own track, “Healthy”.

They claimed that they came up with the idea to include the line, “I just took a DNA test, turns out I’m 100% that bitch” in a song, after viewing a meme during a writing session with Lizzo in 2017.

In October 2019, Lizzo, real-name Melissa Jefferson,  filed a preemptive lawsuit at a California federal court, claiming that both the Raisens and Rothman did not collaborate with her on “Truth Hurts”.

She claimed in April 2019, the Raisens and their music publisher “expressly withdrew any claim to Truth Hurts … and assured Lizzo that they were making no claims to the work”. Additionally, Lizzo denied the Raisens’ claims that it was Jeremiah’s idea to include the line from the meme in the song.

The three songwriters then  filed a counterclaim against Lizzo in February this year, alleging that “the song was anything but Lizzo’s solo performance, and Lizzo would never have collected her Grammy Award but for the songwriting and producing contributions of counter claimants”.

According to the dismissal filed on Friday, Lizzo argued that the suit should be dismissed because, “as a matter of law, a joint author of one copyrightable work does not automatically gain ownership of a derivative work in which the joint author had no hand in creating”.

The court agreed and upheld a previous Ninth Circuit ruling that “authorship in a prior work is insufficient to make one a joint author of a derivative work”.

It also held that the Raisens and Rothmann did not allege any ownership interest in ‘Truth Hurts”, which they claimed is a derivative work of “Healthy,” Gee and concluded that “on that basis alone”, their claims were invalid.

The court pointed to inconsistencies in their pleading, stating that the claims that the “parties created one finished product….and Lizzo ‘derived’ or ‘copied’ elements make a second finished product”, were irreconcilably inconsistent with a later claim that “the parties intended Healthy to be merely a part of the process of creating a single finished product, Truth Hurts”.

The court ruled that several of the “affirmative defenses are so conspicuously deficient that they cannot survive the pleading stage”.

The court granted leave to the songwriters to amend their claims. If they choose to do this,  their amended answer and counterclaims have to be filed by September 4.

Lizzo is then required to send her response within 21 days.

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More on this story

24 October 2019   US singer Lizzo, the artist behind the record-breaking single “Truth Hurts”, has hit back at a trio of songwriters who are making an “illegitimate claim to co-own” her work.
2 September 2019   US singer Lizzo has been accused of plagiarising a lyric from her hit song “Truth Hurts”, in which she sings “I just took a DNA test, turns out I’m 100% that bitch”.