Beyonce has got her legal team in ‘Formation’ in a bid to squash a lawsuit levelled against her for the 2016 hit.
The superstar singer, who is heavily pregnant with twins, was sued by a relative of deceased New Orleans comedian Messy Mya (real name Anthony Barre) back in February. She wasn’t the only name listed on the suit – pretty much everyone connected with the track and its video were served papers.
So what was the issue?
In the ‘Formation’ visual, Mya’s voice is heard twice – first at the start of the clip (“What happened at the New Orleans”) and later on (“B*tch, I’m back by popular demand.”)
The suit, filed by his sister Angel Barre, claims the samples infringe the rights in two works of Barre’s performance art, ‘A 27 Piece Huh?’ and ‘Booking the Hoes from New Wildin.’ Angel seeks royalties, damages and an order that her brother be credited as a writer, composer, producer and artist on the ‘Lemonade’ lead single.
Bey’s team say not so fast.
Her attorney Mary Ellen Roy makes an important point clear from the onset about the production company that produced the video – Pretty Bird:
“[W]hile beyond the scope of this motion, Pretty Bird licensed the YouTube Videos from Mr. Barré’s family before plaintiff Angel Barré had herself appointed as the administrator of the Estate of Anthony Barré weeks after the Music Video’s premiere — presumably for the purpose of bringing this action.”
Roy goes on to stress that Barre’s sister has grossly overstated the use of her brother’s work in the clip and its subsequent use during live performances. She notes that the claim erroneously includes ‘Super Bowl 50,’ during which Beyonce performed the song but didn’t even use the clip of his voice.
As for the use of Mya’s speech in the video and live performances on the ‘Formation World Tour,’ Bey’s motion to dismiss hits back with the fact that just 6-10 seconds were used on each occasion. Hence, it ultimately falls under the protection of Fair Use. And if it didn’t, that wouldn’t matter as the proper licences were secured by the production company ahead of time.
Sounds like Bey a strong case. But time will tell how it all plays out.