Beyonce cites fair use in video clip sample case
By Chris Cooke | Published on Tuesday 18 April 2017
Lawyers for Beyonce have asked a court to dismiss a lawsuit filed against the singer in relation to samples that appear on the video for her track ‘Formation’, from last year’s ‘Lemonade’ album.
As previously reported, in February Beyonce was sued by the estate of Anthony Barre, who built a following on YouTube under the moniker Messy Mya with his video posts. Barre was murdered in 2010 and his estate is now overseen by his sister Angel.
The singer is accused of sampling Barre’s voice on the video for ‘Formation’ without permission. The video includes footage of the Hurricane Katrina disaster and includes New Orleans native Barre saying lines including “What happened at the New Orleans” and “Bitch, I’m back by popular demand”.
Lawyers for the singer say that the video’s producer, Pretty Bird, did secure permission to use the clips of Barre, and – anyway – even if it hadn’t, the use of the clips was unsubstantial and therefore covered by the ‘fair use’ principle under US copyright law.
Requesting that the case be thrown out, lawyer Mary Ellen Roy wrote that: “Pretty Bird licensed the YouTube videos from Mr Barre’s family before plaintiff Angel Barre had herself appointed as the administrator of the estate of Anthony Barre weeks after the music video’s premiere – presumably for the purpose of bringing this action”.
The lawyer adds that the Barre estate’s lawsuit exaggerates Beyonce’s use of the clips, saying that about ten seconds of material was used on her video and six seconds at live shows. That, the lawyer argued, was fair use.