Macklemore Demands Legal Fees Over Failed Lawsuit in Louisiana

Last May, New Orleans jazz musician Paul Batiste sued hip-hop duo Macklemore and Ryan Lewis for allegedly copying his works.

Bastite claimed Macklemore (real name Benjamin Hammond Haggerty) and Lewis sampled his works on the duo’s biggest works – ‘Thrift Shop,’ ‘Can’t Hold Us,’ ‘Need to Know,’ ‘Same Love,’ and ‘Neon Cathedral.’

Batiste has served as a member The Batiste Band, a New Orleans jazz band founded in 1976.  He composed the 11 original ‘infringed’ songs – ‘Hip Jazz,’ ‘Kids,’ ‘Starlite Part 1,’ World Blues,’ ‘Love Horizon,’ ‘Tone Palette,’ ‘My Bad,’ ‘Salsa Elise (Fur Elise),’ ‘Drowning in My Blues,’ ‘Sportsman’s Paradise,’ and ‘Move That Body.’  Batiste filed the copyright infringement lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Eastern District Louisiana.

Last month, a federal judge ruled in favor Haggerty and Lewis.  Batiste had failed to produce sufficient evidence proving the hip-hop duo’s songs showed a “striking similarity” to his own works.  He also failed to show Haggerty and Lewis “factually copied” elements his songs.

Initially, the Louisiana court denied Macklemore’s request to dismiss the lawsuit.  However, after the hip-hop duo submitted reports from three musicology experts – Brian Seeger, Lawrence Ferrara, and Paul Geluso – the court sided with Haggerty and Lewis.  Batiste had also produced a report from alleged ‘musicology expert’ Archie Milton.  The hip-hop duo told the court the New Orleans jazz musician had ghostwritten the document.

In his ruling, U.S. District Court Judge Martin L.C. Feldman wrote,

After performing a listening comparison each Mr. Batiste’s songs and the work that allegedly infringes it, and aided by the guidance the defendants’ expert musicologists, the court finds that the plaintiff has failed to demonstrate ‘striking similarity’ or any instances sampling.

Now, Macklemore and Lewis have demanded payment over Batiste’s failed lawsuit.

Filed in the same Louisiana court, Haggerty and Lewis have asked for $149,358 in attorneys’ fees and costs.

The duo wrote,

Defendants are seeking only a fraction the fees and expenses they incurred and submit that such relief is warranted because plaintiff’s claims were objectively baseless and unreasonable from the outset, and both plaintiff and his counsel engaged in egregious misconduct.”

Haggerty and Lewis cited the weakness Batiste’s case as well as his attorneys’ poor behavior, who submitted the “fraudulent expert report.”

Notwithstanding the earlier judge]’s admonishment, plaintiff and his counsel proceeded with this meritless litigation.

An award attorneys’ fees would beneficially deter, rather than excessively chill, future lawsuits.

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Featured image by San Francisco Foghorn (CC by 2.0).