In a new case that is sure to draw comparisons to the “Blurred Lines” lawsuit, Justin Timberlake and Will.I.Am have been hit with a copyright infringement lawsuit from the estate of a disco artist. The suit alleges that key portions of their pop hit “Damn Girl” were taken from the relatively obscure 1969 jazz song “A New Day Is Here at Last.” The song “Damn Girl” appeared on Timberlake’s 2006 album, “FutureSex/Lovesounds.”
The complaint is being brought by the heirs of Perry Kibble, a musician who died in 1999. Kibble was best known as a member of the funk and disco band “A Taste of Honey,” which won the 1978 Grammy Award for Best New Artist. Taste of Honey’s hit “Boogie Oogie Oogie” reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, sold 2 million copies, and, according to the complaint, “is one of the most recognizable songs from the disco era.”
The complaint alleges that the introduction, rhythm, harmony, melody, and hook of “Damn Girl” were copied from Kibble’s song “A New Day Is Here at Last,” which was recorded by jazz artist J.C. Davis. The complaint goes on to allege that “a substantial part of the drum, conga drum, organ, bass guitar, electric guitar, and saxophone parts in ‘Damn Girl’ were all copied from ‘A New Day Is Here At Last.’”
Interestingly, the complaint seeks injunctive relief, even though the Timberlake song is now over eight years old, making the heirs’ delay in bringing suit an interesting area of inquiry. The suit is just starting, but given who the parties are, it is likely to continue to draw attention. Furthermore, like the “Blurred Lines” case, the heirs are suing on the composition (not the recording), and like the “Blurred Lines” case, the salient issues may turn on whether “Damn Girl” copies portions of the composition or the sound recording, which is alleged not to be owned by Kibble’s heirs.
“A New Day Is Here at Last”