Kanye West – While entertainment law is littered with lawsuits suing popular artists and moviemakers for copyright infringement, rapper Kanye West managed to beat the latest case against him—with the help of philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche and pop star Kelly Clarkson.
The dispute that wound up in the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals was whether the court should uphold the dismissal of a lawsuit alleging that Kanye stole his 2007 hit “Stronger” from songwriter Vincent Peters.
Peters claimed he sent a copy of his own song called “Stronger” to John Monopoly, a business manager and close friend of West’s. The court ruled on Monday that West did have an opportunity to copy Peters’ song, but Peters didn’t prove that the songs were similar enough to support his contention that it was stolen.
In his defense, West said Nietzsche’s famous maxim, “What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger” was so widely quoted that using it couldn’t be seen as copyright theft.
And then there was Kelly Clarkson’s song, “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You).”
“Although the fact that both songs quote from a 19th century German philosopher might, at first blush, seem to be an unusual coincidence, West correctly notes that the aphorism has been repeatedly invoked in song lyrics over the past century,” says the opinion by Judge Diane Wood.
“Notably, an even more recent popular song—one that held the top spot in the Billboard Hot 100 chart at about the same time as oral argument in this case—also shares this key feature with both West’s and Vince P’s songs.”
The judge also wasn’t swayed by the plaintiff’s argument that both his song and Kanye’s song made a reference to Kate Moss.
“Analogizing to models as a shorthand for beauty is, for better or for worse, commonplace in our society” the judge wrote.
In addition, a particular rhyme pattern both songs shared was not enough.
“Vince P cannot claim copyright over a tercet,” the judge said.
A tercet is a poem consisting of three lines.