Flourgon could run things - Lawyer says deejay has grounds to sue Miley Cyrus
Since news broke on Tuesday that Jamaican artiste Flourgon wants $300 million in damages from pop star Miley Cyrus for borrowing from his 1988 song 'We Run Things', many have labelled his claims as ridiculous and dubbed his actions as overly ambitious, greedy even.
However, in an interview with THE STAR, attorney-at-law and former manager of copyright and related rights at the Jamaica Intellectual Property Office (JIPO), Joan Elizabeth Webley, said that persons should not be so quick to scoff at Flourgon's actions.
"Until I know the details of the case, I cannot say this is my legal advice. But based on what is being reported in the news, I think this is going to be a very interesting case, and I do believe he has grounds for a lawsuit," she said.
"The reason I say this is because when I first heard the Miley Cyrus song, that line did jump out at me as well. Her wording of it (we run things/Things don't run we) is not the exact wording as his, but the phrasing that she has done is unique and is a kind of idiosyncrasy of our patois language."
Webley added that Flourgon has secured ownership of his song under US copyright laws, and she said that this is an important step in him proving that his rights were infringed upon.
"Copyright first of all is a personal right, and it's only the owner of the song that could have brought this to court. Based on what I'm seeing in the reports, he has secured US copyright registration, and this is the first step in him proving that there is infringement.
His second hurdle now is to prove that she actually infringed his copyright, and there are two kinds of tests to do this in law; an objective test and a subjective test. An objective test is black and white, but with a subjective test, there are shades of grey, and there is personal discretion that comes into play and that's what exists in this case," she told THE STAR.
"Obviously, the two songs aren't the same because she didn't sing over his song, but that doesn't matter because that one line is significant. I am no judge, but the test is about striking similarities, and the question here is would someone who listen to the song notice that there was some connection."
Webley noted that even if Flourgon doesn't walk away with the win from this case, it should be a lesson to other entertainers to not only become aware of their rights as creators, but to exercise their rights if and when the time comes.
"Is he entitled to that amount (US$300 million)? I don't know because a court will decide that, but I really applaud him for knowing his rights enough to exercise them," she said.
"There are a lot of Jamaican artistes that have rights and don't really exercise them They do a lot of complaining, but they don't take the steps to actively protect and enforce their rights. So, in that regard alone, I'm happy to see the case come to prominence, and I don't think we should dismiss it so easily."