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Jenner & Block Associate Sam Birnbaum, with guidance from Partner Previn Warren, helped deliver a notable win for the firm’s record company clients in Buchanan v. Sony Music Entertainment, et al.
The case was brought by Moreh J. Buchanan, d/b/a Ray Baby. Ray Baby claimed that he distributed a demo tape of four of his original songs to our clients—who, Ray Baby alleged, then unlawfully appropriated his music and lyrics to create songs including, but not limited to, “Single Ladies” by Beyoncé; “Shape of You” by Ed Sheeran; and “No Scrubs” by TLC.
Mr. Birnbaum drafted the motion to dismiss and surreply that explained why, as a matter of law, Ray Baby’s claims should not hold in court. Specifically, the motion to dismiss explained that Ray Baby’s general allegations that he and his manager provided demo tapes to record labels were insufficient to show that our clients’ writers and music producers had access to his works. The motion also explained that Ray Baby had failed to properly register many of the works he alleged were infringed. After Mr. Birnbaum made a compelling case, the judge accepted the arguments and granted the motion to dismiss without having to compare the recordings to determine substantial similarity.
On February 5, 2021, the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit affirmed the district court’s ruling.