Pryor Cashman has won the appeal in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit and the District Court's dismisal of copyright infringement claims Involving Kanye West’s “Stronger” has been affirmed.
In Vince Peters, p/k/a “Vince P.” v. Kanye West, et al., Pryor Cashman represented world-renowned recording artist Kanye West and prominent music companies Roc-A-Fella Records, LLC and UMG Recordings, Inc. in a suit involving West’s Grammy Award-winning song Stronger.
Vince P. sued West, Roc-A-Fella and UMG, alleging that they had infringed his copyright by copying portions of Vince P.’s song Stronger, including the well known maxim “that which does not kill me makes me stronger.”
Pryor Cashman moved to dismiss the case on the grounds that there were no protectable similarities between the two songs at issue. The U.S. District Court of the Northern District of Illinois agreed and granted Pryor Cashman’s motion to dismiss on March 9, 2011. Vince P. appealed.
On August 20, 2012, in a decision written by Judge Wood, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit affirmed the District Court's decision, finding that none of the allegedly similar words and phrases contained in the songs were protectable under copyright law.
The Court of Appeals also rejected Vince P.’s argument that the original combination of the five words and phrases was protectable. Lastly, the Court reviewed the two sets of lyrics and determined that lyrics were not substantially similar, and that, “just as a photographer can not claim copyright in the use of a particular aperture and exposure setting,” a common rhyme scheme does not qualify as original expression.
Kanye West, Roc-A-Fella and UMG were represented by Partner Brad Rose, chair of Pryor Cashman’s Intellectual Property Group, Litigation Partner Ilene Farkas and Litigation associate Eric Fishman.