A pair of songwriters who sued Chris Brown and Drake for copyright infringement over Brown’s “No Guidance” are now blasting the two stars for making “egotistical” arguments about fame and obscurity in their efforts to escape the lawsuit.
A month after Brown and Drake moved to end a lawsuit they called “baseless,” their accusers, Braindon Cooper and Timothy Valentine, filed a scathing response Tuesday – arguing that the superstars were basically claiming they could not be sued simply because they were more famous than the accusers.
“This argument – essentially that defendants are somehow immune from copyright infringement claims by individuals who are not as famous as they are – is both egotistical and without any legal basis whatsoever,” attorneys for the pair of accusers wrote. “Undoubtedly, regardless of their fame and status, defendants may be, and should be, held accountable for their infringement.”
“No Guidance” featuring Drake, released on June 8, 2019, off Brown’s ninth studio album, Indigo, spent 46 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at No. 5 in October 2019. It was also nominated for best R&B song at the 62nd Grammy Awards.
But in an October lawsuit, Cooper and Valentine said the song had ripped off their 2016 track “I Love Your Dress.” Among other alleged similarities, the accusers pointed to the fact that each song featured the phrase “you got it” in the lyrical hook.
Last month, Brown and Drake asked a federal judge to dismiss the case, arguing that a lyric like “you got it” was a “wholly generic lyrical phrase” that nobody can “monopolize.” Attorneys for the two superstars also argued there was no evidence they had even heard Cooper and Valentine’s “obscure” song – a crucial part of proving copyright infringement.
Tuesday’s strongly-worded response centered on the latter claims about obscurity and “access” to the earlier song. The pair argued it was far too early to decide the issue – and that an imbalance in relative fame was hardly a good form of evidence.
“Despite the haughty claim that famous artists like Brown and Drake could not conceivably have viewed or heard plaintiffs’ so-called ‘obscure’ work, the complaint alleges facts supporting the inescapable conclusion that defendants had, at very least, a reasonable opportunity to do so,” Cooper and Valentine wrote.
The duo pointed to the allegation that an A&R representative at UMG’s Cash Money Records had actively solicited Cooper’s work and had “even proposed a meeting in Drake’s hometown.”
“This alone negates the … baseless suggestion that plaintiffs’ work was so ‘obscure’ that it should be considered virtually inaccessible,” Cooper and Valentine wrote.
An attorney for Brown and Drake did not return a request for comment. The judge overseeing the case will rule on their motion to dismiss in the months ahead; if it’s denied, the case will head toward discovery and an eventual jury trial over the allegations.