MANHATTAN, NY (CelebrityAccess) – Manhattan federal US District Judge Victor Marrero dismissed on Friday (March 24) a lawsuit accusing Childish Gambino (aka Donald Glover) of ripping off his hit song, “This Is America,” from an earlier song, ruling the two pieces are “entirely different.”
Miami rapper Kidd Wes (aka Emelike Nwosuocha) sued in May 2021, claiming Glover’s 2018 song was “identical” to his track, 2016’s “Made In America,” including the “flow” of the song – meaning rhyming scheme, rhythm, cadence, and other characteristics of hip-hop lyrics.
“The distinctive flow employed in defendant Glover’s recorded performance of the infringing work’s chorus … is unmistakably substantially similar, if not practically identical, to the distinct and unique flow that Nwosuocha employed,” his lawyers wrote at the time.
The judge disagreed.
“A cursory comparison with the challenged composition reveals that the content of the choruses is entirely different and not substantially similar,” the judge wrote.
In Friday’s decision, Judge Marrero explained how Kidd Wes’ lyrics were a “short simple, self-aggrandizing proclamation,” while Glover’s song was about “what America means and how it is perceived.” Judge Marrero also said the “flow” and other similar characteristics “lack sufficient originality” to be protected by copyrights. And “no reasonable jury” could find that the lyrics themselves were similar enough to constitute copyright infringement.
Lastly, the judge ruled that Nwosuocha had failed to secure a federal copyright registration for the underlying composition to his song. “Accordingly, dismissal of Nwosuocha’s complaint is warranted.”
In a statement to Billboard, Nwosuocha’s attorneys Imran H. Ansari and La’Shawn N. Thomas said their client was “understandably disappointed” and considering appealing the ruling. “He stands by his music, creativity, and the independence of grassroots artists to create their own music and receive credit where credit is due, without the fear of it being apportioned by another.”
“This Is America” spent two weeks on the Hot 100 and won Record of the Year and Song of the Year at the 61st Annual Grammy Awards. A critically-acclaimed music video directed by Hiro Murai touched on the hot buttons of race, mass shootings, and law enforcement violence.