Lizzo is most likely feelin’ good as hell after a California federal judge dismissed a lawsuit against her by two songwriters who say they helped create “Truth Hurts.”
Lizzo hit first in October 2019, asking the court for a declaration that brothers Justin and Jeremiah Raisen did not co-write her Grammy-winning hit song and therefore aren’t entitled to any of its profits. The songwriters countersued in February, arguing that “Truth Hurts” is a derivative work based on a song called “Healthy” that they created with the artist in early 2017.
She maintains the only significant thing to come out of that session was the line “I just did a DNA test turns out I’m a hundred percent that bitch” which was inspired by a viral tweet that another songwriter present (Jesse Saint John Geller, who isn’t part of the litigation) brought up to the group. After news of the dispute broke, Lizzo ripped the brothers for claiming they helped her write the song, but gave the woman who wrote that tweet songwriting credit.
U.S. District Court Dolly M. Gee on Friday granted Lizzo’s motion to dismiss the brothers’ counterclaims, agreeing with the artist that a “joint author of one copyrightable work does not automatically gain ownership of a derivative work.”
“Without deciding who, in fact, authored the songs at issue, and without reviewing the songs’ recordings or lyrics, the Court can determine that Counterclaimants allege that the parties collaborated on, and finalized, one song — Healthy — before Lizzo allegedly copied portions of that song to make Truth Hurts,” writes Gee. “As a matter of law, therefore, even if Counterclaimants are co-authors of Healthy, they have not alleged any ownership interest in Truth Hurts, which they claim is a derivative work of Healthy.”
But Gee is allowing the Raisens leave to amend, finding that a section of their opposition to Lizzo’s suit indicates “they now intend to allege that their collaboration with Lizzo in creating Healthy was part and parcel of the creative process that led to a single finished work, Truth Hurts.”
She doesn’t seem convinced, though, that an amendment will make much difference. (Read her full order below.)
“[T]he facts that Counterclaimants set out in their pleading — that the parties created one finished product, Healthy, and Lizzo ‘derived’ or ‘copied’ elements of Healthy to make a second finished product, Truth Hurts — are irreconcilably inconsistent with the facts as the Opposition now conceives them — that, all along, the parties intended Healthy to be merely a part of the process of creating a single finished product, Truth Hurts,” writes Gee. She notes “the parties do not address the impact of this contradiction in their papers” but, in the interest of caution, she’s giving them a shot and warns “inconsistent allegations may be used to undermine a litigant’s credibility.”
She also struck several of the writers’ affirmative defenses to Lizzo’s suit, finding them either boilerplate or irrelevant to the claims at issue.