Beyoncé has failed to block a $20 million lawsuit over a sample she used of deceased YouTube personality Messy Mya.
Mya, real name Anthony Barré, was murdered in 2010. A sample of a YouTube video of Mya’s from earlier that year features at the start of ‘Formation’. It sees Mya saying “What happened after New Orleans?” and “Bitch, I’m back. By popular demand”.
Earlier this year, the estate of Mya filed a £20 million lawsuit over allegedly unauthorised usage.
Now, a Louisiana federal judge has denied a motion presented from Beyoncé’s legal team to dismiss the copyright claim on fair use grounds.
According to Billboard, U.S. District Judge Nannette Jolivette Brown found that Barré’s sister Angel successfully made a case that Beyoncé’s use of the clips was “not transformative,” adding that the clips were “qualitatively significant” enough to the song to hold up the lawsuit. Brown added that Beyoncé’s motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim is “viewed with disfavour and is rarely granted.”
“Plaintiffs have plausibly alleged in their complaint that defendants did not change or alter the ‘expressive content or message’ of Anthony Barré’s YouTube videos, but rather used unmodified clips without adding anything new,” wrote Brown in her 66-page decision.