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Roddy Ricch Beats Copyright Lawsuit Claiming His No. 1 Hit ‘The Box’ Stole From 1970s Soul Track

Mr. Nimbus | 02/13/2024

Roddy Ricch has defeated a copyright lawsuit that claimed the rapper stole key elements of his chart-topping 2019 song “The Box” from a decades-old soul song, with a judge ruling “no reasonable jury” would find the two songs similar.

Songwriter Greg Perry sued Ricch (real name Roderick Wayne Jr.) and Atlantic Records in 2022, claiming the hit track (which spent a whopping 11 weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot 100) had been ripped off from Perry’s 1975 “Come On Down” — an oft-sampled song in the hip-hop world.

But in a decision Monday (Feb. 12), Judge Analisa Torres ruled that the two songs were clearly very different: “No reasonable jury could find that the works are substantially similar,” the judge wrote, noting “significant dissimilarities” between the “aesthetic appeal” of each track.

While Perry’s track is a “soul song that contains a melodic tune” and is performed with acoustic instruments, Judge Torres said, Roddy’s track is “a hip-hop song delivered in a monotone rap” created primarily with a synthesizer. The tempo of the older song is “significantly faster” than that of “The Box,” the judge added, and the overall “feel” of the two songs is also clearly distinct.

“[‘Come On Down’] is a sentimental song about ‘love and heartbreak,’ while ‘The Box’ is a braggadocious song about ‘amassing wealth, sleeping with multiple women, and being more skilled than other rappers’,” the judge wrote.

Perry’s lawyers filed the case back in December 2022, claiming an average music fan would be able to hear the “strikingly similar” aspects of the two tracks simply by listening to them, but that more thorough investigation by music experts has more conclusively proven the theft.

“Comparative analysis of the beat, lyrics, hook, rhythmic structure, metrical placement, and narrative context by a musicology expert demonstrates clearly and convincingly that ‘The Box’ is an unauthorized duplication and infringement of certain elements of ‘Come On Down,’” the suit read.

“Come On Down” is a popular sample in hip-hop — featured in both Young Jeezy’s 2008 “Wordplay” and Yo Gotti’s 2016 “I Remember.” Perry’s lawyers said both of those songs had been fully cleared and licensed by giving him a songwriting credit and an ownership stake.

“Other [artists] in the rap world that have chosen to copy elements of ‘Come On Down’ have done so legally and correctly,” Perry’s lawyers wrote. “Defendants chose not to license the musical composition from plaintiffs and instead chose to intentionally infringe upon the copyright.”

But in Monday’s decision, Judge Torres said there was no need for Ricch to secure such a license because his song did not infringe Perry’s tune. She said that the central alleged similarity — a so-called  “ascending minor scale played by violin” that Perry claimed was repeated 24 times in Ricch’s song — was “expressed differently” in the two works. Other important elements of Perry’s work, like a so-called tremolando, are “notably absent” from “The Box,” she added.

“The musical composition … differs from ‘The Box in each of the components where plaintiff claims similarity,” the judge wrote. “Plaintiff has failed to demonstrate that defendants copied any protectable portion of the musical composition.”

With her ruling, Judge Torres dismissed Perry’s case permanently, ending the lawsuit entirely. Attorneys for both sides did not immediately return requests for comment on Tuesday.

This post was originally published on this site

Written by Mr. Nimbus

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