The estate of the late New Orleans-based rapper Anthony Barré – better known as Messy Mya – has filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Beyoncé for allegedly sampling Mya’s vocals on her hit track "Formation.” According to the lawsuit, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, the plaintiffs own a number of “protectable copyright interests, both in the musical composition and the sound recording, to Anthony Barré’s original and unique works of performance art,” including “Booking the Hoes from New Wildings.”
Barré’s estate alleges in its complaint that “Defendants’ willful infringement of [Barré’s work] has harmed the Estate of Anthony Barré because, among other things, Anthony Barré was not properly credited for his contributions to ‘Formation’ and ‘Lemonade.’”
It continues: “The proper licensing … would not have only generated substantial revenues, but it would have generated international recognition for Anthony Barré’s performance works and as contributor to a worldwide hit song. Instead, Anthony Barré’s family had to sit by and watch Defendants receive acclaim, and compensation without any of the proper recognition being received, as it should have been, by Anthony Barré.”
As a result, the estate is now seeking more than $20 million "in back royalties and other damages" in connection with Beyoncé’s alleged unauthorized usage of Barré’s copyright protected works.
The suit at hand comes on the heels of a 2016 lawsuit in which independent filmmaker Matthew Fulks alleged that Beyoncé infringed his copyrights, claiming that the trailer for her “Lemonade” HBO special is nothing more than a copied version of his short film, PALINOIA. In documents filed in federal district court in New York last year, Fulks alleged that nine visual similarities amounting to 39 seconds of the 60-second trailer are similar to images in his seven-and-a-half minute film. Those images include "parking garage," "feet on the street" and "side-lit ominous figures."
That lawsuit – which has since been settled out of court – followed a $7.1 million copyright infringement lawsuit filed in Manhattan federal court in 2014 by singer Ahmad Javon Lane, who sued Beyoncé claiming her song "X.O." ripped off an original composition titled "XOXO" that he shared with one of her backup dancers in 2013.