In 2011, Chicago-based singer-songwriter Rebecca Francescatti sued Lady Gaga, alleging that Gaga’s hit “Judas” had ripped off her 1999 song “Juda.” Three years later, Judge Marvin E. Aspen found time to listen to the two songs and has tossed out the case.
“We conclude as a matter of law that the two songs are not substantially similar,” Aspen wrote in his ruling. “No reasonable trier of fact could find that Defendants copied protected expression in Francescatti’s song. The songs do not ‘share enough unique features to give rise to a breach of the duty not to copy another’s work.'”
The judge noted that the two songs have “four similar 16th notes” and similar names, but wrote that those similarities were not substantial enough to capture “the total concept and feel of the Francescatti song.” (Here’s a video comparing a part of “Juda” with “Judas.”)
Song copyright cases are usually settled out of court, as in the case of Avril Lavigne’s 2007 “Girlfriend.” Lavigne was sued for ripping off the 1979 song “I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend,” but the case was settled in 2008 for an undisclosed amount. When these types of cases do make it to court, judges usually side with the party accused of plagiarism, according to Rolling Stone.