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Song-theft claim against Offset allowed to proceed, even though everyone’s confused

By | Published on Thursday 10 June 2021


A judge in Georgia has allowed a song theft case against Offset and his label Quality Control Music to proceed, even though everyone seems a bit confused as to exactly what specific claims are being made by the song theft accuser.

We do know that Atlanta-based singer Barbara Norwood reckons that Offset’s 2019 track ‘How Did I Get Here’ rips off her earlier work ‘Martian’. The rip off, her lawsuit claimed, followed her uploading tracks to Quality Control’s website after the label invited such uploads from artists looking to “be discovered”.

However, lawyers for Quality Control have argued, Norwood’s original legal filing had none of the information you’d normally expect in a song-theft lawsuit of this kind.

On that basis, they filed a motion for dismissal of the case, though Norwood’s team didn’t formally respond to that motion in writing, apparently assuming that they could simply respond in court at yesterday’s scheduled hearing.

Nevertheless, Quality Control continues to argue, more information is still necessary for it to be able to properly respond to the litigation. According to Law360, the label’s lawyer Hayden R Pace told the court yesterday that although Norwood claims that ‘Martian’ and ‘How Did I Get Here’ are “substantially similar”, her legal team “don’t actually identify how any of it is similar – they haven’t identified the lyrics or a particular hook”.

As a result, Pace added, “we don’t know what kind of case we’re defending against”, meaning that, when trying to form a response to the lawsuit, “we felt like, frankly, we were flying blind”.

At the same court hearing, Norwood’s legal rep Dorey Cole tried to expand on what his client is claiming, although he seemingly only added to the confusion. At times it appeared that Cole was saying Offset had actually sampled Norwood’s track, but then the legal claim also talks about the beats and rhythms of the two tracks being “substantially similar”, suggesting they copied the composition of ‘Martian’ rather than the actual recording.

Given the ongoing confusion, Pace said: “I need it to be properly pled in a complaint … so I can file yet another motion to dismiss”.

With that in mind, the judge hearing the case gave Cole ten days to file an amended complaint, telling the lawyer that the new claims made in yesterday’s hearing should be included in the new filing, and that he better make sure everything is covered this time because: “I doubt there’ll be another opportunity to amend”.