A judge has dismissed a copyright infringement lawsuit accusing rapper 50 Cent of stealing the opening line for his 2003 hit In Da Club from a song by former 2 Live Crew frontman Luther Campbell.
US District Judge Paul Huck found that the disputed phrase was a “common, unoriginal, and non-copyrightable element of the song” and was not entitled to copyright protection.
Moreover, outside of the opening phrase, there are almost no similarities between the works, and the phrase in question represents only eleven seconds of a more than three minute song, the judge wrote.
No reasonable jury would conclude that the compositions have substantial similarities and the average person would not confuse the two songs, he said.
The original lawsuit was filed in a Miami federal court in January on behalf of Lil’ Joe Wein Music against Curtis James Jackson, aka 50 Cent.
The lawsuit, filed by attorney Richard Wolfe, said 50 Cent only changed one word from the opening line of Campbell’s song from It’s Your Birthday. After repeating the word “go” several times, “Sheila” becomes ”shorty” in the line, “Go shorty, it’s your birthday.”
Campbell’s song appeared on his 1994 solo album Still a Freak for Life.
Lil’ Joe Wein Music holds the copyright to It’s Your Birthday and other songs Campbell produced with his rap group 2 Live Crew and as a solo artist.