Usher Accused of Plagiarism

Songwriter alleges that singer ripped off his tune to write 'Burn'

September 22, 2011 8:50 AM ET
usher nfl plagiarism atlanta
Usher attends a football game between the Atlanta Falcons and the Philadelphia Eagles in Atlanta, Georgia.
Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

Usher is being accused of plagiarism by a songwriter who claims the singer's 2004 Number One hit "Burn" rips off one of his own compositions. Last month, a California federal judge found that there was sufficient evidence to suggest that Usher and co-producer Jermaine Dupri had access to complainant Ernest Lee Straughter's 1998 song "Reasons."

The judge also accepted a musicologist's report demonstrating the similarities between the two songs, which share a "highly unusual" 18-bar intro, strikingly similar arrangements, melodies and vocal phrasing.

Photos: Usher at Essence Music Festival 2011
It is believed that Usher had access to Straughter's material through Warren G, who had collaborated with both men. Usher and his attorneys have filed papers in the hopes of convincing U.S. District Court Judge Christina Snyder that Warren G had no connection to the creation of "Burn" and that the singer was not familiar with Straughter's work. If she is not persuaded, the case is likely to go in front of a jury.

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