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Mariah Carey Accused of Stealing ‘All I Want for Christmas is You’ in $20M Lawsuit

A Mississippi man claims that Carey and her co-writer Walter Afanasieff infringed the copyright of his 1989 song of the same name.

Mariah Carey is being sued for $20 million by a Mississippi artist who claims the singer stole her perennial holiday blockbuster “All I Want for Christmas is You” from him and denied him his rightful profits from the song.

In the complaint, which was filed on Friday (June 3) in Louisiana district court by attorneys Douglas Schmidt and Andrew Abrams, Vince Vance (née Andy Stone) says Carey and her “All I Want” co-writer Walter Afanasieff willfully infringed his copyright of the song and have been unjustly enriching themselves ever since. Afanasieff and Sony Music, which released “All I Want for Christmas is You” on Columbia Records, are named as co-defendants in the suit, along with Sony Corp. of America.

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Described as a “self-employed artist,” Vance says he co-wrote the song of the same name in 1989 and recorded it in a Nashville studio before releasing it, along with an accompanying music video, on the Valient 92689 record label. Recorded under the name Vince Vance & The Valiants, the song first charted on Billboard‘s Hot Country Singles & Tracks in 1993 and reached a peak of No. 31 on the tally in January 2000. Vance’s song is currently available on streaming services including Spotify and YouTube.

“Defendants, have knowingly, willfully, and intentionally engaged in a campaign to infringe Plaintiff’s copyright in the work ‘All I Want for Christmas is You’ and to commit acts of unjust enrichment by the unauthorized appropriation of Plaintiff’s work and the goodwill associated therewith,” the complaint reads.

Vance claims he became aware of Carey’s version “via the internet and interstate commerce,” though the suit neglects to state when he first heard it.

The suit claims that Carey and her co-defendants’ alleged infringement of Vance’s song has caused him “financial and professional damage” and that it was “designed to exploit the popularity and unique style of Plaintiff” while “causing confusion” for the public.

The complaint adds that Vance’s attorneys made contact with the defendants in April 2021 and December 2021 but that they were “unable to come to any agreement over usage” of the song. “Subsequently, Plaintiff personally requested that Defendants cease and desist from further distribution of Plaintiff’s work,” the suit continues.

Vance is asking for damages in “an amount not less than” $20 million as well as costs of his legal action and attorney’s fees.

Representatives for Carey and Sony Music did not immediately respond to Billboard’s request for comment. Attorneys for Vance have also not yet responded.

First released in October 1994 as the first single from Carey’s Merry Christmas album, “All I Want for Christmas is You” is one of the most popular holiday songs in history. For the past three years, it has re-charted at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 during the holiday season.