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Lady Gaga’s ‘Judas’ Didn’t Rip Off Songwriter’s ‘Juda,’ Federal Judge Rules

A federal judge has dismissed a Chicago singer-songwriter’s claim that Lady Gaga’s “Judas” was an infringing copy of her song “Juda.”

U.S. District Judge Marvin E. Aspen, in a summary judgment ruling issued on Tuesday, said that Rebecca Francescatti’s “Juda” lacked substantial similarity to Gaga’s work, the threshold for proving a copyright infringement claim. “Judas” was a hit single on Gaga’s “Born This Way” album, released in 2011.

“No reasonable fact finder could detect similarities between the expression of the repeated words ‘Juda’ and ‘Judas’ in the lyrics,” Aspen wrote. “Their monotone melody does not sound similar. And although we find that the songs share similarities in terms of their titles and the four 16th notes, these similarities are merely cosmetic in nature. Because they are not qualitatively important, these elements fail to give rise to substantial similarity.”

Aspen did find that Gaga and other defendants in the case “had the reasonable opportunity” to view Francesatti’s song. Access is an element in proving copyright infringement claims, and Francesatti contended that defendant Brian Joseph Gaynor, sound engineer and bassist for her rerecording of “Juda” in 2005, was the link to Gaga. He worked on her “Born This Way” album, but he and another defendant, DJ Paul Blair, denied that they denied that they worked on the “Judas” song or discussed its creation with Lady Gaga.

Although Aspen said that the “parties dispute whether Gaynor, in working with Blair on material for Gaga’s ‘Born This Way’ album, exposed Gaga, either directly or indirectly through Blair, to the Francescatti song.”

A legal team led by Chuck Ortner and Sandra Crawshaw-Sparks of Proskauer Entertainment Industry Group represented Lady Gaga. Christopher Niro, William  Niro and Ashley E. LaValley of Niro, Haller & Niro represented Francescatti.

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