When you are threatened with litigation, whether it be in the realm of intellectual property or otherwise, you don’t need to sit around waiting and wondering if/when an action will be filed against you. Instead, there is a type of action called a Complaint for Declaratory Judgment that allows you to go on offense, essentially asking the court to intervene and solve a dispute that cannot be reconciled by and between the parties.
That scenario will play out in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California after Melissa Jefferson (known as the musician Lizzo) filed such a Complaint against numerous defendants who claim to co-own a piece of the popular work “Truth Hurts.” Instead of allowing the individuals to file a copyright infringement action, Lizzo leaned on her legal counsel and filed a Complaint for Declaratory Judgment, asking the Court to rule that they have no right to co-own the work or share in its profits.
Two of the defendants, Justin and Jeremiah Raisen, allegedly have embarked on a campaign of harassment against Lizzo and threatened to “go public” unless they received a share of the work. That would be good cause for petitioning the Court to intervene on what could turn into an important revenue stream attached to a song that hit No. 1 on the Billboard charts.
Lizzo says that the crux of the Raisens’ claim to co-ownership is that “Truth Hurts” contains a lyric, “I just took a DNA test, turns out I’m 100% that bitch” with a particular melody, that Lizzo worked on at Justin Raisen’s Los Angeles studio in April 2017. However, Lizzo is adamant about the fact that the Raidens did not write any of the material in question, did not come up with the idea of including the lyric in an unreleased demo, failed to decide how to sing the lyric and do not co-own the work.
Interestingly, the Raisens supposedly made claims concerning co-ownership in the past, relinquished same and then returned with the same claims at a later date. Lizzo believes that the reinstatement of claims is merely due to the success of the song.
Another defendant, Justin “Yves” Rothman, is believed to have only become interested in gaining a co-ownership of the popular song after learning about the Raisens’ claims. Lizzo alleged that, despite the song being released in 2017, Rothman, a producer, songwriter and musician, never said a word about his claimed ownership until a week ago.
That said, Rothman was also at the writing session for the unreleased demo of “Truth Hurts” recorded at Raisen’s LA studio in April 2017. He made a demand to Lizzo for a 5% cut on the track in exchange for a release of any claims.
In order to put all of these potential claims to bed, Lizzo has resorted to being “100% that bitch” and firing a Complaint off in federal court. She would also like a reimbursement of her attorney’s fees and costs expended as a part of this effort.