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Archived updates for Thursday, August 30, 2007

Got a Birthday? Go Ahead and Chant

Thanks to the 11th Circuit in Lil' Joe Wein Music, Inc. v. Curtis James Jackson for keeping us free to chant the phrase "Go [your name here], it’s your birthday" when it held that 50 cent's "In Da Club" is not substantially similar to the original, copyrightable aspects of "Its Your Birthday."

"In Da Club" appears on Fifty's "et Rich or Die Tryin'" album released in February 2003 with the following lyrics:
Go, go, go, go
Go, go, go shawty
It's your birthday
We gon' party like
it's yo birthday
We gon' sip Bacardi like it's your birthday
And you know
we don't give a f--
It’s not your birthday.

The lawsuit alleged that 50 Cent changed only one word from the opening line of Campbell's song from "It's Your Birthday." After repeating the word "go" several times, "Sheila" becomes "shorty" in the line, "Go shorty, it's your birthday."

But how original is that? Not very, apparently.

"A signature and long-standing feature of live performance rap music is the hip hop chant," offered defense expert Tricia Rose. "The chant is a form of audience engagement staged by the performer (mc, dj or rapper) who provides a familiar phrase or saying, often in call and response format, designed to energize, include, affirm and engage the audience."

The defense then went on to offer several specific examples of the use of the phrase before the creation of "Its Your Birthday" including the 1993 film "Who’s the Man," starring Ed Love who plays an inept barber giving a customer a particularly awful haircut. In an effort to assuage the distressed customer, Lover compares him to the famous actor Wesley Snipes by rapping "Go Wesley, go Wesley, go go go Wesley, it's your birthday." And who could forget "The Birthday Jam" by the Miami Bass DJ’s, released in June 1994, with the lyrics, "Go granddad, Its your birthday. Go granddad, Its your birthday . . . Go grandma, Its your birthday. Go grandma, Its your birthday."

So, if you've you got a birthday? Then, go ahead and chant.
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