US singer Chris Brown sued by UK-based reggae label for copyright infringement.
Greensleeves Publishing Ltd has filed a lawsuit against the 32-year-old star, according to a report by Bloomberg Law.
The iconic Reggae label has accused the singer and his music producers, Sony Music Entertainment, of ripping off Dancehall veteran Red Rat’s monster hit “Tight Up Skirt”. They claim that the copyright infringement occurred on Brown’s 2017 hit song “Privacy”.
The lawsuit was filed in United States District Court in New York City, by Greensleeves.
‘Tight Up Skirt’ was recorded in the 1990s and released in 1997, by the iconic dancehall star and went to number one on the local Jamaican music charts. The song also became an international hit and was featured on Red Rat’s debut album, “Oh, no… it’s Red Rat,” which was released on Greensleeves Records.
Red Rat, real name Wallace Wilson, burst onto the music scene in 1996 with his hit song “Shelly Ann”. The charismatic star was known for her ability to bring humor to Dancehall music and her signature line “Oh, no!”
The complaint concerns Brown’s lyrics, which sample eight exact words from Red Rat’s song.
The chorus of Brown’s song “Privacy” begins with “Ayy you, gal inna di tight up skirt,” which are the exact words and order of Red Rat’s 1997 release. Talk to Jamaica Loop in 2018, Red Rat said he knew Chris Brown had “sampled a piece of tight skirt” and said it was “great for him.” At the time, Red Rat said Jamaica Loop: “Tight Up Skirt and and Bam Bam (by Sister Nancy) are two of the most sampled songs in the Caribbean.
“With Chris Brown, who is one of the biggest pop stars in the world, feeling the urge to taste a piece of Tight Up Skirt only shows how much he loves and respects Red Rat and its catalog. It shows. also how much he is a fan of music, ”he continued.
Tight Up Skirt’s Chris Brown sampling was awesome for me, because one, that was my song, and a big thumbs up, and two, the song ‘Privacy’ went platinum a couple of weeks ago. “, did he declare.
Shauni Caballero, Founder of The Go 2 Agency, a leading music publishing and royalty consulting firm, said The voice, Red Rat saying that the sample was excellent for him will not affect the result.
Ms Caballero said, “Red Rat to say that the sample was beneficial to him wouldn’t mean anything. “When you sample a song, you have to erase it and that includes all of the parts involved in the song. In this case, the lyrics have been sampled, but all writers and publishers must give their consent for it to be used.
Talk to The voiceMs. Caballero urged other Jamaican artists to make sure they are registered with the appropriate publishing companies to ensure they can take action – if their work is violated.
She said: “I think every time they should actively pursue legal action because we all know about the Sister Nancy case – where she did not receive royalties for 34 years for her token song. Bam Bam.
“If the samples are not cleaned properly, legal action awaits. Many Reggae and Dancehall artists may feel like they don’t have the resources to file claims, but it’s always worth seeking legal advice and taking legal action. We must have our things in order to guarantee the protection of the work of artists and writers. ”
Ms Caballero also stressed that artists shouldn’t be afraid to pursue business, even if only a few words were sampled.
Ongoing copyright issues with Caribbean artists
“For decades people have gotten away with it and it’s time to give Dancehall and Reggae artists the credit they deserve,” she added.
This latest copyright infringement lawsuit involving a Jamaican artist comes as no surprise to broadcaster and DJ Ernie Harriott, better known as Daddy Ernie.
Talk to The voice he said, “I listened to the song and the lyrics are definitely Red Rat’s. I don’t remember hearing those lyrics in particular before Tight Up Skirt came out, so I think there is a case. It’s just an example that people should put their house in order when writing songs to make sure that if a situation arises like this, they can take it further.
Mr Harriott also said Caribbean music like reggae and soca is still popular and “situations like this latest lawsuit just prove it”.
The Vibes FM DJ added that he had no problem with American artists sampling Caribbean music, but the artists needed to be properly credited and financially remunerated.
We must have our things in order to ensure the protection of the work of artists and writers
“If it was a rock or pop artist whose music had been sampled and the proper channels had not been followed, they would come for the singer in question, the same rules apply to our Jamaican artists. and Caribbean, ”he said.
Greensleeves Records and Publishing is a label specializing in Reggae and Dancehall music. It was founded in 1977 by Chris Cracknell and Chris Sedgwick and the label started as a small record store in Ealing, West London in 1975. Over the years they have released music from some of the most big names in Reggae and Dancehall music. Shabba Ranks, Barrington Levy, Yellowman, Sizzla, Dennis Brown and Elephant Man have all released records on the Greensleeves label.
According to some reports, Greensleeves Publishing Ltd also has one of the largest catalogs of Reggae songs in the world.
News of another reggae and dancehall industry lawsuit, comes after the high-profile $ 300 million lawsuit between pop star Miley Cyrus and dancehall artist Flougon – which was settled in 2020.
Flourgon, real name Michael May, sued Cyrus in 2018 for the lyrics to his 2013 song “We Can’t Stop”. Flourgon’s classic song “We Run Things”, released over 25 years ago, had the timeless lyrics “We run things, things no run we”.
On her 2013 hit, Miley Cyrus sang “We run things, things don’t run we”. The close resemblance in words was enough for a court to award Flourgon an undisclosed amount of damages.
Ms Cyrus had tried to have the case closed, but in February 2019 a judge ruled the case could continue.
The voice have contacted Greensleeves Publishing Ltd and Red Rat for a statement.