Lizzo Knocks Out Copyright Co-Ownership Claim

Steven T. Lowe

On April 27th, 2021, the Grammy-winning pop singer Lizzo claims about the copyright owner of the hit song “Truth Hurts” once and for all.

Three unknown music artists accused Lizzo of refusing to acknowledge their role in creating her song “Truth Hurts.” Among other things, the artists Justin Raisen, Jeremiah Raisen, and Yves Rothman (the “plaintiffs”) claimed to be behind the song’s iconic lyric, “I just took a DNA test, turns out I’m 100% that bitch.”

The lawsuit was initially dismissed in 2020 when U.S. District Court for the Central District of California Judge Dolly Gee rejected the plaintiff’s co-ownership claims because the plaintiffs failed to allege that they had actually collaborated with Lizzo. Instead, the complaint alleged that they had collaborated to develop an earlier standalone song called “Healthy” — which Lizzo then used to create her smash hit song.

Following this 2020 decision, Judge Gee allowed Lizzo’s opponents to refile an amended complaint. However, on Tuesday, April 27th, 2021, Judge Gee doubled down on her ruling. According to Judge Gee’s decision, because the plaintiffs continued to claim co-ownership of “Truth Hurts” based solely on their contributions to “Healthy,” the amended complaint failed to address her original concerns.  As a result, Judge Gee granted Lizzo’s second motion to dismiss, making Lizzo the sole owner of her Grammy-winning song.

While the ruling dismissed the core allegations of co-ownership of “Truth Hurts,” a claim seeking an accounting of revenues earned by Lizzo from the use of “Healthy’” in her hit song remained alive. Judge Gee ordered Lizzo to file an answer to the surviving claim, which will proceed.

Author’s Note

This seems like the plaintiffs lost their co-ownership declaratory relief claim based upon a technicality. However, the fact that Lizzo used the plaintiffs’ contributions from one song in another song should not negate their claim in any way.

Lizzo is represented by Cynthia S. Arato of Shapiro Arato Bach LLP.

The Raisens and Rothman are represented by Lawrence Y. Iser, Shawn Holley, Gregory P. Korn, and Allen Secretov of Kinsella Weitzman Iser Kump & Aldisert LLP.

The case is Jefferson v. Raisen et al., case number 2:19-cv-09107, in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.

* Lowe & Associates (“The Firm”) is an entertainment and business law firm located in Beverly Hills, California. The Firm has extensive experience handling cases involving copyright law, having provided top-quality legal services to its clients since 1991. The Firm is recognized for its many achievements, including successfully litigating many high-profile cases.

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