Tue | Dec 18, 2018

Gleaner Editors' Forum | Lyrics use disrespectful and institutional - Flourgon's lawyers determined damages will be paid

Published:Friday | May 25, 2018 | 12:00 AMKimberley Small/Gleaner Writer
Attorney-at-law Stephen Drummond.
Attorneys-at-law Loreal McDonald (left) and JoAnn Squillace.
Miley Cyrus

All it takes are a few good men and women. With a US$300-million lawsuit on the books, six lawyers from three United States law firms have banded together in an attempt to bring the proprietors of Big Music to justice.

The figure is a drop in the bucket, given the far-reaching resources of the defendants, Sony Music Entertainment, Miley Cyrus (Smiley Miley Inc) and their affiliates - or that is how the legal team behind Michael May, better known as Jamaican deejay Flourgon, would have a judge and jury believe.

They have teamed up not merely seeking a declaratory judgment, but rather a ruling on copyright infringement and punitive damages. They claim that Cyrus' camp, with the support of her management and record label, misappropriated Flourgon's creative and artistic rights.

According to attorney-at-law Stephen Drummond of the three-men, three-women-strong team, the sustained popularity and profit of Cyrus' We Can't Stop is an injustice taking place because of lack of resources, and the misappropriation of lyrics from Flourgon's We Run Things is disrespectful.

During last Friday's Gleaner Editors' Forum, Drummond and JoAnn Squillace of the law firm Drummond and Squillace were accompanied by Willie E. Gary, Loreal McDonald and Larry Strauss of Gary, Williams, Parenti Watson & Gary and Carol Green von Kaul, who specialises in intellectual property.

"Though we may ask for them to basically cease and desist any performance or future performance of the song, that's not the basis of our claim. We're saying they have misappropriated it, they have not given him attribution and they've done it unlawfully," Green von Kaul said. McDonald labelled the affront 'institutional misappropriation', saying "this has been going on for decades. This is a practice at the corporate level".




The latest production Cyrus promoted was her album Younger Now, featuring the single Malibu. "In promoting Malibu, she sang Malibu and We Can't Stop - totally different songs. It's a main song for her and she's gonna continue to perform it. It is her hook. Every time she performs that song, Mr May is entitled to compensation," said Squillace. "It's very important to know We Can't Stop is one of the three songs that is always in her repertoire, that she sings - including when she's promoting a new album, a new single - even when it's of a different tone, and a different genre."

"There's a wrong there and it's systemic - and we're really hoping we can get that message across to any emerging artiste or anyone who has a new idea. Try and get information early so you can protect your rights. Once you come up with the music, you get that copyright early. We have so many people who have talent - they have put their time and their investment and they are unable to benefit from it, while somebody else is living high on the hog on what they have created," Green von Kaul said.

"At the contract stage, artistes just want to sing and make music. It's unfortunate. They literally sign their life away just to get that recording contract and not realise they're signing over their property. Once you get a contract, please sit with a lawyer - review it. If the label wants to sign you, they believe in your work, they know it's gonna sell. So don't forget that," Squillace said.