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Beyoncé Sued for Copyright Infringement in ‘Formation’ Documentary

The star of the Oscar-nominated Hurricane Katrina documentary “Trouble the Water” has accused the makers of a Beyoncé music video of using clips from the documentary without paying royalties and, in some cases, without permission.

Kimberly Roberts, a resident of the Lower 9th Ward, filed her lawsuit against Prettybird Pictures Inc. in New Orleans federal court, seeking damages for breach of contract and copyright infringement.

The filing is at least the second local lawsuit in the past year involving Beyoncé’s Grammy-nominated single “Formation.”

Last February, the sister of the late bounce rapper Messy Mya alleged in a federal lawsuit that Beyoncé used some of his material without permission or proper credit. Beyoncé’s side has argued her use of the material was proper, according to court records. That lawsuit remains unresolved.

“Trouble the Water” depicted Roberts, a rapper, and her husband, Scott, during Katrina and its aftermath. The couple shot some of the footage used in the film, which showed water inundating their home in the Lower 9th Ward after the levees failed.

According to the lawsuit, Roberts holds exclusive rights to “Trouble the Water” and two years ago entered into an agreement allowing California-based Prettybird to use a portion of the documentary in Beyoncé’s video for the New Orleans-themed “Formation.”

In exchange, Roberts was to receive a lump-sum payment as well as royalties, according to the lawsuit, which was filed by attorney DaShawn Hayes.

Roberts alleges she hasn’t gotten any royalties and the documentary clip has been used in settings other than a music video, such as live shows and concerts.


– Excerpt from article written by for The Advocate. Find the article here


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