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Supervisor Elham AbolFateh
Editor in Chief Mohamed Wadie

Beyoncé Hit with Copyright Lawsuit over "Break My Soul"


Thu 23 May 2024 | 08:55 AM
Beyoncé
Beyoncé
Yara Sameh

Beyoncé, Sony Music and others are facing a copyright lawsuit over her chart-topping hit “Break My Soul".

In a complaint filed Wednesday, in Louisiana federal court, members of Da Showstoppaz accuse Beyoncé (Beyoncé Knowles Carter) of infringing their 2002 song “Release A Wiggle” on “Break My Soul,”.

They alleges that Beyoncé infringed their copyrights by legally sampling the 2014 song “Explode” by the New Orleans rapper Big Freedia. 

The group accuse the singer of llegally borrowed several key lyrics from their song.

“While Mrs. Carter … and others have received many accolades and substantial profits … Da Showstoppaz’s have received nothing—no acknowledgment, no credit, no remuneration of any kind,” the group’s attorneys wrote, also naming Big Freedia (Freddie Ross) as a defendant.

“Explode” was one of several high-profile samples on “Break My Soul,” which also heavily pulled from Robin S.‘s house song “Show Me Love.” 

After the release of the song, Big Freedia thanked “Queen Beyoncé” and said she had been “honored to be a part of this special moment.”

At the center of the new dispute is the phrase “release yo wiggle” and several related variants, which Da Showstoppaz call “unique phrases” that they coined in their song. 

They alleges that Big Freedia — a well-known rapper in New Orleans’ bounce music scene — infringed their copyrights by using similar phrases in “Explode.”

“The infringing phrase ‘release yo’ wiggle’ and several other substantially similar phrases are featured prominently in the song and evenly spread out across Explode’s two-minute and forty-seven second runtime,” the group’s lawyers wrote. “Any reasonable person listening to ‘Release A Wiggle’ and ‘Explode’ would conclude that the songs are substantially similar.”

Such allegations could face long odds in court. Copyright law typically does not protect short, simple phrases, and a court could potentially dismiss the case on the grounds that Big Freedia was free to use such lyrics even if The Showstoppaz used them first.

But the group’s lawyers aren’t concerned, saying they “Have a copyright to their unique and distinctive lyrics” that was clearly infringed by Big Freedia: “The coined term and phrase ‘release a/yo wiggle’ has now become closely synonymous with Big Freedia, thereby contributing to Big Freedia’s fame. However, Big Fredia did not compose or write the phrase, and Big Freedia never credited Da Showstoppaz as the source.”

According to the lawsuit, Da Showstoppaz first learned about Big Freedia’s song when they heard “Break My Soul.” 

They say they notified Beyoncé and others of the alleged infringement infringement last month, but that she has refused to take a license.