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U.K. Publisher Sues Brown and Sony Over Copyright Infringement

Greensleeves Publisher based in London, The straightforward and concise action notes at the outset that Greensleeves “owns and administers exclusive music publishing rights in the United States” for “Tight Up Skirt.” They filed a lawsuit naming Sony Music Entertainment, Chris Brown, and Chris Brown TV for copyright infringement over “Privacy,” Brown’s 2017 hit, and Jamaica-born Red Rat’s “Tight Up Skirt” from 1997. “Right Up Skirt” was released in the U.K., and Red Rat registered the song with the U.S. Copyright Office in 2020. 

asdf-1-1024x577 Greensleeves explains the similarities of the two songs in their lyrics, hook, arrangement. They want to stop the further use of the song, or selling “any materials that are substantially similar to the copyrighted work,” as well as north of $500,000 in damages and “the gains, profits and advantages they [Brown and SME] have obtained as a result of their acts of copyright infringement,” to the tune of over $1,000,000.”

The songs “share a similar primary identifying feature,” the plaintiff elaborates, in the form of “a melody containing the lyrics’ Hey you girl inna di tight upskirt'” (in “Tight Up Skirt”) and “‘Hey you girl without a tight up skirt'” (in “Privacy”), according to the filing. (The latter line doesn’t appear to exactly match that which is displayed on leading lyric databases, which indicate that the fourth word is “with” as opposed to “without,” despite Brown’s unique pronunciation in the track.)

Similarly, Greensleeves Publishing and its legal team relay that the lines’ “shared structural placement,” at the beginning of the songs’ respective choruses, “is significant and adds to the prominence of the similar melody.” 

Details of the description include, “Though the line “is the hook and dominates thCertifiedsections” of the purportedly infringed track, appearing some 18 times (when also factoring for slight variations), Chris Brown’s RIAA certified Multi-Platinum track “does not contain a hook phrase,” meaning that the line “takes on greater significance, due to its prominent position as the first phrase in each chorus section.”


– Excerpt from an article for Digital Music News by Dylan Smith. Read the full article here.


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