January 9, 2020
A Louisiana federal court has ordered jazz musician Paul Batiste to pay $125,000 to Macklemore and Ryan Lewis for their legal fees. Batiste filed a copyright infringement lawsuit in respect of several songs released by the duo, including “Thrift Shop”, which was dismissed earlier this year.
As reported by CMU, in 2017, Batiste sued Macklemore and Lewis alleging that the duo had used various melodies and elements from his earlier tracks. Specifically, Batiste claimed that they stole beats and horn melodies from his songs “Hip Jazz” and “World of Blues”.
U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman called the lawsuit “objectively baseless” and found that there was no evidence that Macklemore and Lewis had ever heard Batiste’s songs (released in 1997 and 2000 respectively). Justice Feldman compared each of Batiste’s songs to the defendants’ allegedly infringing work and received insights from expert musicologists. He concluded that Batiste failed to demonstrate striking similarity or any instances of sampling.
Macklemore and Lewis recently returned to court, arguing that Batiste should contribute toward their legal costs because of the weakness of his case. Demonstrating the dangers of bringing “objectively baseless” claims, the Court granted the defendants a $125,000 costs award, which was just shy of the $150,000 they had requested.
Authors: Sam Galway and Jordyn Benattar