Artist News Business News Legal

Juice WRLD on the receiving end of latest multi-million dollar song-theft lawsuit

By | Published on Tuesday 22 October 2019

Juice WRLD

Want another song-theft case to add to the pile? Of course you do! Rapper Juice WRLD – real name Jarad Higgins – has been accused of ripping off a track by pop punk band Yellowcard on his 2018 hit ‘Lucid Dreams’. The song Higgins and his collaborators are accused of pilfering from is 2006’s ‘Holly Wood Died’.

According to a lawsuit filed by the former members of Yellowcard – they having disbanded in 2017 – Higgins et al borrowed “melodic elements” of their song for his 2018 record without permission. And for that they want $15 million+ in damages, and a rights and royalty share in ‘Lucid Dreams’. Which would be nice. For them.

Insisting that the similarities between the two works are sufficient to constitute copyright infringement, Yellowcard’s lawsuit states: “The infringing work and infringing sound recording directly misappropriates quantitatively and qualitatively important portions of plaintiffs’ original work in a manner that is easily recognisable to the ordinary observer. The infringing work and infringing sound recording are not only substantially similar to the original work, but in some places virtually identical”.

To prove copyright infringement, Yellowcard also need to demonstrate that Higgins or one of his collaborators had access to their song before beginning work on ‘Lucid Dreams’. On that point, the lawsuit cites various interviews in which the rapper has talked about his appreciation of “emo pop rock”, a genre which includes Yellowcard, the band reckon.

In fact, he once talked about how he “listened to and educated himself in emo pop rock music” in order to impress a girl he had a crush on in the fifth grade. And you know what else happened when Higgins was in fifth grade? Yep, Yellowcard released the album on which you will find ‘Holly Wood Dies’.

In terms of the mega-bucks damages being demanded, the case also notes how ‘Lucid Dreams’ is the track that really launched the rapper’s career, and that his live business is therefore very much dependent on that one song. So we’ll have some of that too please.

Higgins, his collaborators and their various business partners are all listed as defendants on the case, the latest in a series of lawsuits accusing pop stars of ripping off other people’s work.

If it proceeds to court, this legal battle will almost certainly lead to yet more debate about exactly when similarities between two songs of similar genres should and should not actually constitute copyright infringement. Many in the artist community reckon recent cases in the American courts – especially those decided by juries – have tended to be too willing to see musical similarities as copyright theft.