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Chris Brown, Red Rat copyright case moves towards settlement

Oh no! The copyright battle involving reggae label Greensleeves Publishing, singer Chris Brown and his label Sony Music may be stalled for 90 days as a Greensleeves Records lawyer has requested a 90 day extension on a critical deadline to move the suit forward.

The case seems to be headed for an out-of-court settlement.

The parties are reportedly engaged in settlement talks after Greensleeves filed a US $1.5 million lawsuit in July 2021.

Contacted about the progress of the lawsuit, Red Rat said: “no comment at this time”.

Brown and the label Sony are accused of copying the lyrics and rhythm of the popular dancehall song Tight Up Skirt, performed by Red Rat in 1997.

The unauthorized sample was used in Brown’s 2017 hit single, Privacy.

Court documents reveal that the parties are exploring ways to resolve the matter outside of court.

In the complaint filed last year, Greensleeves contended that Tight Up Skirt had been exploited by Chris Brown and SONY, “without authorization or permission and constitutes an infringement of the copyright in the musical composition”. The song was registered with the United States Copyright Office on March 16, 2020.

Sony, which is being represented by Cowan, Liebowitz & Latman, P.C., has stated that Greensleeves does not own a valid copyright for Tight Up Skirt; and that the portion of the song, which was allegedly infringed upon, was “insufficiently original to warrant copyright protection.”

Privacy, which has garnered more than 225 million views on YouTube, has brought renewed attention to Red Rat’s hit single.

Chris Brown, who is represented by Pryor Cashman LLP, has claimed that any alleged similarities between Privacy and Tight Up Skirt are not “actionable” as, among other things, they pertain to “commonplace, unprotectable elements; exist in prior art; are a de minimis [immaterial]; and/or constitute a fair use”.

Jamaican singer Samantha J also sampled the song in her 2013 hit Tight Skirt.

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