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Chris Brown and Drake hit back over No Guidance song-theft claim

By | Published on Thursday 13 January 2022


Chris Brown and Drake have hit back at a song-theft claim which, they say, is “baseless”. Not only is there no credible explanation for how the two stars would have accessed the “obscure” song they are accused of ripping off on their 2019 hit ‘No Guidance’, there is no plausible case for suggesting their track infringes the earlier work. After all, the main similarity is the lyric “you got it”. Which Roy Orbison surely got to first.

Singer Braindon Cooper and producer Timothy Valentine sued Brown and Drake last year, claiming that ‘No Guidance’ rips off their 2016 track ‘I Love Your Dress’. In their lawsuit, Cooper and Valentine said that “in addition to containing similar beat patterns, the melody and lyrics used in the chorus/hook of ‘No Guidance’ – ‘you got it, girl; you got it’ – are so strikingly similar to those used in the chorus of ‘I Love Your Dress’ that they cannot be purely coincidental”.

As for how Brown and Drake had heard ‘I Love Your Dress’, Cooper and Valentine argued that they had sent a link to the album on which their track appears to an A&R representative associated with Drake’s then label Cash Money Records, who had approached Cooper to see if he had any new music he could share.

But all of that is a whole load of nonsense, reckon Brown and Drake in their formal response. The two songs may share a key lyric and a more general lyrical theme. But the short and common phrase “you got it” cannot be protected by copyright in isolation. And copyright never protects ideas and themes.

Cooper and Valentine’s lawsuit, they say, is “premised upon the alleged similarity between the wholly generic lyrical phrase ‘you got it’ and the alleged similar (and unoriginal) theme of a hard-working, attractive woman. No one, including plaintiffs, can own or monopolise the non-copyrightable phrase ‘you got it’, and it should come as no surprise that this phrase appears in countless other works. Also, lyrical themes are simply unprotectable as a matter of law”.

As for other musical similarities claimed in the lawsuit, the response goes on: “Plaintiffs further vaguely contend that the two songs have similar ‘beats’, ‘beat patterns’, ‘rhythmic structure’, ‘metrical placement’, ‘primary scale degrees’, ‘melodies’ and ‘distinctive sound effects’. None of these alleged similarities are articulated with any detail [and] these allegations are defied by a cursory listen of the two songs”.

As for the theory that Brown and Drake got access to ‘I Love Your Dress’ via a Cash Money associate, they argue that is baseless too.

Cooper and Valentine don’t even formally allege that that associate “had any relationship with the creators of defendants’ works (much less a ‘close relationship’); had any involvement with (much less supervisory responsibility for) defendants’ works; contributed any material to defendants’ works or were physically present with the creators of defendants’ works during the creative process”.

“Rather”, their legal filing goes on, “a charitable read of the complaint is that plaintiffs gave their song to someone in the music business who might have known someone who knows one of the defendants involved in the creation of defendants’ works, but that plaintiffs have no idea who that person might be, whether it actually happened, or when it happened”.

With all that in mind, Brown and Drake – and their various co-defendants – conclude, the court should kick this song-theft claim out pronto.