Songs on Trial: 12 Landmark Music Copyright Cases

We look back at historic rulings from "Surfin' U.S.A." to "Blurred Lines"

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Ray Parker Jr. vs. Huey Lewis and the News (1984)
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Michael Ochs Archives/Getty, Chris Walter/WireImage/Getty4/12

Ray Parker Jr. vs. Huey Lewis and the News (1984)

"Ghostbusters" by Ray Parker Jr. (1984) vs. "I Want a New Drug," by Huey Lewis and the News (1984)

The Case: Producers of the film Ghostbusters originally approached Huey Lewis to pen the film's theme, but he was already committed to work on another sci-fi comedy – Back to the Future – and declined. Producers tapped Ray Parker Jr. to do the honors, apparently directing him toward a sound that could be described as "Huey Lewis-esque." Lewis himself certainly thought so, and filed a suit against Parker, alleging that he lifted the melody from his own song "I Want a New Drug."

The Verdict: The pair settled out of court in 1995 on the condition that both parties refrain from speaking about the suit in public. All was well until Lewis unloaded about the settlement on a 2001 episode of VH1's Behind the Music. Parker sued him soon after for breaching the confidentiality agreement.

Why It Matters: Though no legal precedents were set, the lawsuit's ghostly reemergence served as a strong reminder that confidentiality agreements weren't just a formality.

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