A copyright infringement complaint against Megan Thee Stallion, Warner Music, and others over “Savage” has been officially dismissed with prejudice by a federal court in New York.

District Judge Katherine Failla recently granted the defendants’ motion to dismiss the pro se action, noting in a footnote that one of her interns gave “substantial assistance” in formulating the opinion.

The dispute began in February 2023, when the plaintiff, a hip-hop producer named James Greene, claimed that “Savage” had taken components from the 1999 instrumental tune “It’s About to Be On.”

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In a nutshell, the claims at hand resembled those in a number of earlier infringement actions. While recognizing that “It’s About to Be On” had not been commercially released, the filing party identified an early 2000s effort to get the music into the hands of label executives and other well-connected industry figures via CD.

One of those persons was purportedly “Savage” producer and co-writer J. White Did It’s putative mentor, who allegedly received a copy of the plaintiff’s relevant song two decades ago and played it for J. White Did It some time before the 2020 release of “Savage.”

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Again, in the interest of brevity, Judge Failla cited Greene’s perceived lack to demonstrate that the non-party mentor had listened to or played the song on the CDs (one purportedly provided to him in 2000, the other in 2004).

But the judge didn’t stop there. He also looked at the plaintiff’s key claims of creative overlap between the songs, noting that the described time signature and rhythmic sequence components couldn’t be protected under US copyright law.

The court further defined the alleged use of “the same siren sounds and piano instrumentation” in the songs as “qualitatively distinct” using the ordinary-observer test.

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“Despite this cursory and unprotectable structural similarity,” Judge Failla said of a further purported parallel, “the substance of the two drum patterns is qualitatively different, and would preclude an ordinary listener from finding substantial similarity.”

While the dismissal appears to be uncomplicated, music-specific copyright litigation is often a mixed bag, with rulings and outcomes ranging substantially in certain venues and scenarios.

Just a few weeks ago, a California judge denied a dismissal petition in a broad action alleging the theft of reggaeton over multiple recordings. The judge concluded that the claimants had “sufficiently alleged the protectability of the drum pattern, interplay of compositional elements, or the combination of these elements.”

In other cases, the court has acknowledged “apparent similarities” between works but rejected infringement claims on technical grounds.