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Legal Fireworks: Beyonce, Jay-Z, and Big Freedia Accused of Stealing Lyrics

Thursday, May 23, 2024 • Tamil Comments
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A former New Orleans-based group is suing Beyonce, Jay-Z, and Big Freedia for their supposed infringement of their copyright to the term "release a wiggle."

The federal copyright suit, filed in New Orleans on May 22, alleges that Big Freedia wrongfully sampled the three-word expression in her 2014 song "Duffy." The plaintiffs, Tessa Avie, Keva Bourgeois, Henri Braggs, and Brian Clark, were members of the group "Da Showstoppaz." The plaintiffs assert that Big Freedia appropriated the expression from their 2002 single "AP Release A Wiggle," a song they had written and included on an album distributed by BlackHouse Entertainment.

The complaint claims that "'Explode' infringes on Da Showstoppaz's 'Release A Wiggle' twelve times, with the infringing phrase'release yo' wiggle' and several other similar phrases prominently featured throughout the song's two-minute and forty-seven-second duration. Any reasonable person listening to both 'Release A Wiggle' and 'Explode' would conclude that the songs are substantially similar."

The connection to Beyoncé's claim dates back to when she sampled a Big Freedia song, "Explode," on her 2022 single "Break My Soul" from the album "Renaissance." As a result, the complaint lists Beyoncé and Jay-Z as defendants, as well as other writers and producers credited with "Break My Soul" and companies associated with releasing both songs.

The complaint reads, "Da Showstoppaz owns copyright in their original and creative lyrics and musical composition, 'Release A Wiggle.' Big Freedia had access to 'Release A Wiggle,' which she then sampled in Mrs. Carter's 'Break My Soul.' Thus, in preparing 'Explode,' by the act of composing derivative work from 'Release A Wiggle,' Big Freedia copied the protectable expression in 'Release A Wiggle' and infringed on Da Showstoppaz's copyrights."

Da Showstoppaz are seeking judge-awarded credit on both "Explode" and "Break My Soul," royalties on future uses of the songs, and damages related to profits the infringers have made off Big Freedia, Beyoncé, and Jay-Z—including revenues from Beyoncé's "Renaissance" tour and film.

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