Late last month (July 29), Katy Perry was ordered to pay $2.78 million to the Christian rapper Flame, after a jury ruled that she (or whoever writes her songs) had taken a 6-note sequence from one of his songs, “Joyful Noise”. Following the successful lawsuit, lawyers spoke to Billboard about the possibility that “this will cause more cases to be brought” and, well, we might be seeing the effects already.
Specifically, Lady Gaga is the subject of a lawsuit alleging that she plagiarised a little-known singer-songwriter, Steve Ronsen, for her massive song “Shallow”, which she sang with Bradley Cooper in A Star Is Born. The basis of his claim is that the hook of “Shallow” is based on just a similar three-note progression – G, A, B – from his 2012 song, “Almost”.
Ronsen – who is backed up by “a renowned and respected musicologist and professor who determined that there are significant tempo, melodic, rhythmic, and harmonic similarities between the two ‘hooks’ of the songs at issue” – is reportedly asking for millions. Before its publicity was boosted by the case, “Almost” apparently had fewer than 300 streams.
Gaga’s team have branded the move a “brazen shakedown” while her lawyer, Orin Snyder, adds: “Mr. Ronsen and his lawyer are trying to make easy money off the back of a successful artist. It is shameful and wrong.”
“I applaud Lady Gaga for having the courage and integrity to stand up on behalf of successful artists who find themselves on the receiving end of such (claims). Should Mr. Shirian (Ronsen’s attorney) proceed with this case, Lady Gaga will fight it vigorously and will prevail.”
This isn’t actually the first time Lady Gaga has been accused of copyright infringement (as is probably to be expected with such a huge artist). In 2016, she was sued, unsuccessfully, by the artist French video artist Orlan for her imagery in the “Born This Way” video. Artnet reports that Orlan ended up paying the singer and Universal $18,000 in fees.