Britney Spears may not often be credited with originality, but she was last week when a federal judge threw out a copyright infringement suit filed against her. According to the Associated Press, U.S. District Judge Berle M. Schiller ruled that songwriters Michael Cottrill and Lawrence Wnukowski hadn’t presented sufficient evidence to prove that their song ”What You See Is What You Get” was the source of Spears’ similarly titled ”What U See (Is What U Get),” from 2000’s ”Oops? I Did It Again.”
The two songwriters filed suit in June 2002 against Spears, Zomba Recording Corp., Jive Records, Wright Entertainment Group, and BMG Music Publishing, claiming that Spears’ camp had asked them to submit tunes for her to record, and that they had responded by sending a copyrighted version of their ”What You See?.” But the judge ruled that the plaintiffs did not present enough evidence to counter the defense claim that the four Swedish songwriters credited with the Spears tune — Jorgen Elofsson, David Kreuger, Per Magnusson, and Rami Yacoub — had composed their melody by October 1999, and that Spears had completed recording her vocals a month later, before she would have had access to the plaintiff’s demo version of their song. In fact, Spears’ songwriters testified, they hadn’t heard the disputed submission until two months ago. In any case, the Philadelphia-based judge ruled that, even if Cottrill and Wnukowski could prove Spears had access to their tune, the two songs were not ”substantially similar.” If it’s any consolation, the song titles do prove that Cottrill and Wnukowski are better spellers than Spears.