Beyoncé’s Motion to Dismiss $20 Million “Formation” Lawsuit Has Been Denied

Beyonce’s legal team isn’t in for the smooth ride they thought they would encounter with the $20 million copyright infringement lawsuit filed against the Lemonade artist. It has been announced that a Louisiana federal judge denied a motion filed by her legal team in efforts to dismiss the lawsuit centered on her wildly popular 2016 single “Formation,” – per Billboard.

The lawsuit was filed back in February of this year by the estate of the now-passed New Orleans bounce artist and YouTube personality Messy Mya (born Anthony Barre). Videos created by the late personality entitled “Booking The Hoes From New Wildin” and “A 27 Piece Huh?” were featured in the song and sampled without either Messy Mya’s permission or the permission of the estate.

Although they were just phrases, (for example: “What happened at the New Wildin?” and “B*tch, I’m back by popular demand”) they were phrases that were prominently used in the visual component of the song. Messy Mya’s sister, Angel Barre, said the samples used in “Formation” infringe on the rights of her late brother’s works. That is not a fact that will disappear with the mere act of a simple motion to dismiss.

The Louisiana judge, U.S. District Judge Nannette Jolivette Brown, seemed to agree and denied the motion, which suggested that the samples were cleared based on the grounds of fair use. Judge Brown has decided that Barre has made a case in the matter that Beyonce’s use of Messy Mya’s words were not transformative and, though short, were a “qualitatively significant” use.

According to Billboard, Judge Brown also noted that a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, as in this case, is “viewed with disfavor 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,” Brown wrote in her 66-page decision, which can be read in full at THR. “[T]he Court concludes at this stage of litigation that ‘the copyright law’s goal of promoting the Progress of Science and useful Arts’ would not be better served by allowing Defendants’ use of Plaintiffs’ copyrighted material without authorization or compensation than by preventing it.”

Beyonce’s legal team, take note.

Photo Credit: Screengrab from “Formation”/beyonceVEVO

Sheriden Chanel is a twenty-something writer, Beyoncé enthusiast, and lover of all things visual art. Keep up with her and her musings on social via @indiebyline.