Beyonce Denies Infringement Allegations in 'Formation' Lawsuit

Estate of late New Orleans rapper Messy Mya sued pop star for $20 million over audio samples featured in video for 'Lemonade' single

Beyoncé denied copyright infringement allegations in a new response to a lawsuit filed by the estate of late New Orleans rapper Messy Mya. Credit: Focus On Sport/Getty

Beyoncé denied a slew of copyright infringement allegations in a new response to a lawsuit filed by the estate of Anthony Barre, better known as the late New Orleans rapper and YouTube sensation, Messy Mya. In February, the estate sued Beyoncé for $20 million over samples of audio from Barre's YouTube clips, which were featured in the video for the Lemonade single, "Formation." 

Barre's voice can be heard three times in the "Formation" video saying, "What Happened at the New Orleans," "Bitch, I'm back by popular demand" and "Oh yeah, baby, I like that." Barre's estate claims the samples infringe on the copyright of two of his YouTube videos, "A 27-Piece Huh?" and "Booking the Hoes From New Wildin." Barre, best known for his YouTube videos, was shot and killed in New Orleans in 2010.

In April, Beyoncé's legal team filed a motion to dismiss on the grounds of fair use. However, a judge denied their plea in July, ruling that while the audio snippets were short, they were of "qualitatively significant" use.

In their new filing, Beyoncé's legal team invoked an array of defenses, claiming the singer had been "granted a license permitting" her to use the audio clips and arguing the use of the audio was "reasonable and justified." 

A representative for Beyoncé did not immediately return Rolling Stone's request for comment.

Beyoncé's new claim also argued again that the Barre estate had no case because the audio snippets were too short (about six seconds in total) and Barre's voice was a minor part of the song. The filing also claimed the copyrights on the Messy Mya videos "were invalid or were invalidly registered." At one point Beyoncé's lawyers even argued: "Plaintiffs' claims in whole or in part are barred by the First Amendment."

Outside of the ongoing legal battle, Beyoncé gave birth to twins in July and has recently been heavily involved in hurricane relief efforts after Hurricane Harvey devastated her hometown of Houston.