Lady Gaga: She’s No (Copyright) Monster

Lady GagaThe federal district court in New Jersey has dismissed Stefani Germanotta, a.k.a. Lady Gaga, from a copyright lawsuit filed by composer and record producer Calvin Gaines.  Mr. Gaines alleged in his complaint that his writing and producing partner, Rob Fusari, proved to be something of a Judas by betraying their longstanding collaborative relationship.  According to Gaines, he and Fusari composed the music and produced the master recordings for several Lady Gaga tracks, including the international megahit PaparazziThe problem, according to Gaines, is that the partnership went from a You and I  proposition to just merely Eh, Eh because Fusari failed to give credit or, perhaps more importantly, a share in the proceeds of the alleged jointly created works to Gaines.  Under U.S. copyright law, each author of a jointly authored work has the right to exploit the work as he or she sees fit, but must share the proceeds with co-collaborators.  If you don’t share the Money Honey, suddenly, a once fruitful partnership may begin to look more like the aftermath of a Bad Romance

Despite the fact that Gaga herself was the lyricist for all the involved compositions, and therefore a joint copyright owner herself, Gaines did not name her but, rather, only Fusari and his company in the dispute.  Why would Gaines play such a risky litigation LoveGame when the Mother Monster is likely the party with the deepest pockets or, in her case, meat purse?  According to the complaint, Gaines had already reached some form of agreement with team Gaga whereby Gaga Nation agreed to be bound by the outcome of the suit. 

An apparent penchant to settle with Gaines notwithstanding, Gaga was not free to Just Dance while the court decided Fusari’s fate.  Not content to wait on the Edge of Glory alone, Fusari filed a third-party complaint seeking to hold Ms. Germanotta liable to him for any damages he might owe to Gaines.  Gaga responded by filing a motion to dismiss, alleging Fusari to be a Paper Gangsta with no right under federal copyright law to collect from a third party.

As it turns out, Gaga didn’t need her Poker Face to best Fusari, because the court agreed with her.  In a short but pointed opinion, the judge held that “neither federal statutory law nor federal common law provide causes of action for indemnification or contribution in Copyright Act cases. . . .  Accordingly, the Court will dismiss [the claims] with prejudice.” 

Looks like Gaga is a winner of lawsuits as well as Grammy Awards; maybe she was just Born This Way


DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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