Three years after Lady Gaga was accused of plagiarism and hit with a lawsuit, a judge has thrown the case out. In 2011, singer Rebecca Francescatti sued the Artpop singer, claiming that the Born This Way hit “Judas” was a rip-off of Francescatti’s own 1999 track “Juda.” The Hollywood Reporter writes that U.S. District Judge Marvin E. Aspen finally got around to listening to both tracks and concluded “as a matter of law that the two songs are not substantially similar.” The case was subsequently dismissed.
While the judge did acknowledge both songs had near-exact titles and four similar 16th notes, that was “not sufficient to give rise to a finding that the Gaga song has captured the total concept and feel of the Francescatti song” and “Judas” and “Juda” did not “share enough unique features to give rise to a breach of the duty not to copy another’s work.”
Whenever music copycat cases like this land in the courtroom, it’s extremely rare for the judge to side with the plagiarized party. For instance, the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Dani California” and Tom Petty’s “Mary Jane’s Last Dance,” two Rick Rubin-produced tracks, featured a nearly identical chord progression, but a one-note difference was enough to make a lawsuit against the Peppers not worth pursuing. Petty was reportedly contemplating a lawsuit against the group, but later told Rolling Stone, “If someone took my song note for note and stole it maliciously, then maybe. But I don’t believe in lawsuits much. I think there are enough frivolous lawsuits in this country without people fighting over pop songs.”
The Marvin Gaye estate was sued for even contemplating filing a lawsuit against Robin Thicke, Pharrell and company over “Blurred Lines.” One notable example of the court siding with the original artist’s work was the Chiffons; victory against George Harrison. Harrison was ordered to pay over $500,000 for stealing the melody of the Chiffons’ “He’s So Fine” for “My Sweet Lord.” Compare the likeness between “Juda” and “Judas” below: