Beyonce sued for using Messy Mya’s words in Formation

Beyonce is applying to the court to dismiss a lawsuit against the singer arising from her use of Messy Mya’s spoken-word clips in the first single on her critically acclaimed visual album Lemonade. Messy Mya was a New Orleans comedian, whose estates which included her sister, Angel Barre, commenced the law suit against Beyonce seeking for royalties, damages and an order that Barre be credited as a writer, composer, producer and artist on the track.

In the “Formation” short film, Barre is first heard at the very beginning saying, “What happened at the New Orleans” and later in the video saying, “Bitch, I’m back by popular demand.

According to the HollywoodReporter:

In the motion to dismiss, Beyonce’s lawyer claimed that Messy Mya’s estate has grossly overstated the use of Barre’s work in the “Formation” video and its subsequent use during live performances — including a claim involving Super Bowl 50, during which Beyonce performed the song but did not actually use the clip of his voice.

Her lawyer also argues that he minimal and transformative use of the clips falls within the protection of the fair-use doctrine — but the defendants don’t need it because the music video producer licensed the work.

It remains to be seen whether the case will be dismissed by the court. This is the right move in the right direction and it will give Beyonce’s lawyers more time to negotiate a settlement with the plaintiffs, if that is on the table.

The amount of damages claimed, $20 million, seem to be too high compared to what had been used in the video clip. Messy Mya’s spoken words were not used in the song, only in the video. So a direct correlation with the sales of the album will be more difficult to establish.

It is not uncommon for plaintiffs to sue for an amount that is higher than what they think they could claim. But and overly stated amount may lead to the suit being seen by the court as a frivolous claim and hence, dismiss the case altogether.

Beyonce Knowles Messy Mya by BIK Consulting on Scribd