L’Antoinette Stines has a case - Lawyers believe J’can choreographer can win lawsuit against Jay-Z, Beyoncé
As news that Jamaican dancer and choreographer L'Antoinette Stines has filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against US superstars Jay-Z and Beyonce continues to spread, at least two entertainment lawyers believe a win for Stines is not far-fetched.
According to reports from several international news media outlets, Stines, whose spoken word piece on love was used on the couple's Black Effect track back in 2018, claims that she gave permission to use the audio for promotional purposes and was shocked when it was used as the intro on a track.
She said the move left her feeling 'artistically raped' as she was neither credited or compensated for her part in the song. In an interview with THE STAR, attorneys-at-law, Joan Elizabeth Webley and Ron Young, explained that based on details revealed in the international press, Stines' case seems solid.
Recognises their worth
"Without having read the agreement or being privy to what was negotiated at the time, it seems likely that, just as in the case with Flourgon, this is another incident where another Jamaican copyright owner recognises their worth and the value of what it is that they have created. The right that she had allowed for was a promotional use and the inclusion of the audio on the track is a clear commercial use," said Webley. "It is available for purchase and so it becomes more than a promotional use. One could even argue that even if it wasn't included on the track itself and was included as an interlude on the album, it would still possibly be considered commercial use and not just promotional use for the project."
Webley also pointed out that for Stines to go as far as to file a lawsuit, it means she believes she has enough for a strong case.
"I think L'Antoinette from time immemorial has demonstrated a particular intellectual property savvy that is not very common. The fact that she has L'ANTECH actually registered as a technique, means that this is a person that is really to be respected and modelled in certain ways," she said. "Getting copyright for a choreography or a technique is not a simple process and she was able to follow it through and gain protection for what she created. So in my mind, if she has chosen to go this far, without having read the document, I would say she has a really good case and I'm very interested to see what happens."
Young says if the contract Stines signed indeed only granted the star couple the right to use her work for promotional uses, its inclusion on the track is a clear violation and would present strong grounds on which Stines could win her case.
"I haven't seen the contract and so I don't know if there is something in there that allows them wider usage and she just didn't read it properly, but if nothing like that is in the contract, then yes, she has the right to earn economically from the copyright in her performance," he said.
Responding to THE STAR's question whether or not the removal of the Black Effect music video from YouTube is an indication that Jay-Z and Beyonce's team believes an infringement did occur, Young said that could be a possibility.
"I think it definitely could be an indication because if they didn't feel there was any infringement, it wouldn't have been removed. Now it could have been taken down for another reason, but the timing sounds like they realise that there may be a problem," he said.
Young added that based on the level of infringement, Stines' payout could be millions of US dollars.