November 07, 2011 1:22pm PT by Eriq Gardner
Andy Samberg, NBC Sued Over 'Saturday Night Live' Sketch Featuring Rihanna (Video)
Saturday Night Live is facing allegations it stole material for two sketches, including an Emmy Award-nominated short featuring Andy Samberg and pop star Rihanna.
In a lawsuit filed in New York federal court on Thursday, Aleric Banks (aka "Rick tha Ruler") and Monique Hines say they created the music that would form the basis of two skits on SNL, including "Shy Ronnie" and "Like A Boss."
The two plaintiffs are a St. Louis-based production team.
According to an interview given to a local press outlet earlier this year, Banks and Hines had a mutual connection with Samberg and submitted some tracks as the comedian prepared to release his first album as a member of the band The Lonely Island.
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Samberg's band recorded the tracks, allegedly taking the plaintiffs' copyrighted master recordings "verbatim," and added lyrics.
About a year later, after Lonely Island's album came out, Samberg reprised a couple of the songs on SNL. On April 4, 2009, Samberg and actor Seth Rogen performed "Like A Boss." On December 5, 2009, Samberg and Rihanna performed "Shy Ronnie," a sketch about a bashful musician who has trouble speaking up when it's his time to throw out a verse. (See video below.)
Initially, Banks and Hines were thrilled at the breakthrough, especially after "Shy Ronnie" was nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics. Now, after failing to receive claimed credit and compensation, the two have filed a lawsuit saying that the music wasn't really original.
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The plaintiffs say that before the release of Samberg's album and skits, a Universal Music Group subsidiary label sent them a "producer declaration" form. Banks filled it out by stating that as the writer and producer of "Like A Boss," he was a 50 percent owner of the copyright. Banks says he got a response letter claiming that he had entered into an agreement with Lonely Island that only entitled him to a 25 percent copyright interest.
Nevertheless, Banks says he hasn't received any producer royalties nor any profits from SNL's exploitation of his music. NBC Universal, Samberg, The Lonely Island, and Universal Republic Records are now being sued for willful copyright infringement and unjust enrichment.
NBCU says it has no comment.
Here's SNL's "Shy Ronnie" featuring Rihanna...