Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood are getting sued by a Dallas songwriter who claims the country duo's 2011 platinum hit "Remind Me" was actually her creation. Now she's taking the singers, songwriters and Sony to court for $10 million.
But what will the songwriter need to prove in order to win her copyright case and secure monetary damages to the "tune" of millions?
You "Remind Me" of Copyright Infringement
Amy Bowen once lived in Nashville and performed as Lizza Connor. She claims she penned her tune, "Remind Me," in 2007 and copyrighted the song in 2008. She regularly performed the tune at music events for years, reports The Hollywood Reporter.
The sketchy part is that Bowen performed her own version of "Remind Me" for composers including advisors John Kelley Lovelace and Charles DuBois at a country music workshop. The kicker: Lovelace and DuBois told Bowen her song could work well as a duet.
In 2010, Paisley, Lovelace and DuBois worked on a new song, also entitled "Remind Me." After being released by Sony, the song sold more than one million copies and topped Billboard's country music chart.
Bowen filed suit against Paisley, Underwood, Sony, and others for lifting her tune. She's seeking $10 million in damages and requests to be named the song's owner, reports Taste of Country.
Proving the defendant had access to the copyrighted work is an essential element of a copyright infringement case.
Based on the workshop interaction and Bowen's various public performances of her song, she was able to demonstrate that Paisley et al. had access to her "Remind Me," reports the Reporter.
With access established, the copyright infringement case will turn on whether or not Bowen can plausibly establish that the copyrighted elements of her "Remind Me" are "substantially similar" enough to the Paisley/Underwood recording.
The wide exposure of Bowen's song to the public will certainly help her case. In general, a plaintiff who shows a high degree of access has a lower standard of proof when it comes to demonstrating substantial similarity.
Luckily for Bowen, if her case falls flat, the disappointment could fuel inspiration for a heartbreaking ballad. Win-win.