“Lawsuit Over Copyright Infringement of “This Is America” Won by Donald Glover”
Donald Glover, known by his stage name Childish Gambino, has won a lawsuit over copyright infringement regarding his hit song “This Is America.” The suit was filed by Kidd Wes, also known as Emelike Nwosuocha, who alleged that “This Is America” infringed the copyright of his own song “Made in America,” which he uploaded on SoundCloud in 2016. However, U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero dismissed the case, ruling that the two songs are not substantially similar.
According to Billboard, Judge Marrero explained that a comparison of the two compositions reveals that the choruses are entirely different and not substantially similar. He also noted that the lyrics of “Made in America” were a “short, simple, self-aggrandizing proclamation” while “This Is America” touched on what America means and how it is perceived. Additionally, the “flow” of the two songs lacked sufficient originality and could not be protected by copyright. Finally, Nwosuocha failed to attain a federal copyright registration for his song, making the dismissal of the complaint warranted.
Nwosuocha and his legal team claimed that the two songs had nearly identical rhythmic, lyrical, and thematic content in their chorus sections, which were the centerpieces of both songs. They were seeking damages for at least 43 categories. However, Judge Marrero ruled that no reasonable jury would agree that the lyrics were too similar to be considered copyright infringement.
Nwosuocha’s attorneys Imran H. Ansari and La’Shawn N. Thomas told Billboard that their client was understandably disappointed and may appeal the ruling. They added that Nwosuocha stands by his music, creativity, and the independence of grassroots artists to create their own music and receive credit where credit is due, without the fear of it being apportioned by another.
On the other hand, Glover’s lawyer Jonathan D. Davis stated that there was no case here as there was no infringement, let alone a copyright registration. Davis claimed that this was obvious from a simple comparison of the two songs and a review of the U.S. Copyright Office records.
The dismissal of the lawsuit is a victory for Glover and the music industry at large. Copyright infringement lawsuits are often complicated and can have serious consequences for artists and their livelihoods. This ruling reaffirms the importance of originality and the need for a proper legal process to determine copyright infringement cases.