When Born This Way released in 2011, the multi-Grammy winning artist Lady Gaga was accused of ripping off music on the record that spawned a few hits. Perhaps as a by product of the accusations that Born This Way was too similar to Express Yourself by Madonna, it was rumoured that Gaga copied Judas. Dismissing the claims of copyright infringement on the alleged rip-off, Lady Gaga can now breathe a sigh of relief as she did not copy Judas in any creative capacity.
Chicago based singer-songwriter Rebecca Francescatti, decided to take legal action when she felt Judas, sounded a lot like Juda. The federal judge,U.S. District Judge Marvin E. Aspen ruled out the decision in the pop star’s favour citing a lack of substantial similarity. The proof submitted apparently did not meet the threshold for absolute proof to make a decisive statement on Rebecca’s behalf.
The claims that surfaced after Gaga released Judas in advance in 2011, after leaking it to the public and releasing an equally religiously themed video to support the release was already mired in controversy about Born This Way. The lead single off the album was Billboard’s 1000th Top 10 Single, and quickly rose to the top for its empowering lyrics and message. Critics were soon to note that the track shared the same chord progression as Madonna’s Express Yourself, leading to a war of words from both the pop stars. While a lot of noise was made around the whole episode, the claims dropped due to Gaga’s clarifications on the issue.
Taking the issue to the court and three years later Lady Gaga and RedOne, can now rest knowing that did not copy Judas. Aspen in his statement wrote that it there were no similarities between Judas and Juda, the repeated words in the chorus. No fact finder could find a reasonable similarity even in the monotone melody. The only things that were the same were the titles and the four 16th notes, which he noted were only cosmetic additions, thus downplaying their qualitative merit to substantiate the infringement claim.
Gaga and her legal team of Sandra Crawshaw- Sparks and Chuck Ortner, were told that they did have reasonable opportunity to access Rebecca’s song via Access. Rebecca who was represented by Christopher Niro, William Niro and Ashley E. LaValley of Niro, Haller & Niro claimed that Brian Joseph Gaynor was the link to the whole claim. Gaynor and DJ Paul Blair who worked with Gaga on the album denied any participation in the creation of the track. Gaynor who was the bassist and sound engineer for Rebecca’s 2005 track Juda may have introduced her to the song, but that is still a dispute.
Lady Gaga who is currently touring the world in support of her latest effort ARTPOP, will finally find relief in the fact that she no longer copied Judas. The singer who identifies with her image of unique musicality, does borrow from the past but that is only in the strictest sense of the fashion she puts out on public display. This piece of news is a huge relief to the artist who wants to bring art in pop culture.
By Rathan Paul Harshavardan