Rick Astley performing live. Photo Credit: Wjack12
Eight months back, Rick Astley sued Yung Gravy (as well as Dillon Francis and others) for allegedly featuring a “nearly indistinguishable” imitation of his voice in “Betty (Get Money)” without permission. Now, the involved parties have officially settled.
Word of the settlement entered the media spotlight in a brief update from Deadline and concise reports from local outlets. At the time of this writing, though, the corresponding notice of settlement didn’t appear to have become available to the public, and neither the artists nor their counsel seemed to have addressed the development with formal statements.
Similarly, aside from news of the resolution itself, supplemental details are few and far between at present. In the original action, however, Rick Astley, represented by King & Ballow’s Richard Busch, maintained he’d been approached to license a sample of “Never Gonna Give You Up” for “Betty.”
Ultimately, the 57-year-old (who didn’t write “Never Gonna Give You Up” or have a say in the licensing of the underlying composition) opted against signing off on the recording’s appearance in the relevant Yung Gravy track, which has racked up north of 232 million Spotify streams since becoming available to fans in June of 2022.
Lacking approval for the use of Astley’s actual voice, the defendants then “conspired to include a deliberate and nearly indistinguishable imitation of Mr. Astley’s voice,” per the initial complaint. Importantly, Yung Gravy and others allegedly charted their recreation of Astley’s voice, executed organically as opposed to with artificial intelligence, via social media.
In any event, “the public could not tell” that Astley hadn’t contributed to the “Betty” recording, the suit alleged, with listeners having also “believed it was actually Mr. Astley singing and/or a direct sample” from “Never Gonna Give You Up.”
In other copyright infringement litigation news, Jay-Z, Timbaland, Ginuwine, and Ed Sheeran alike have scored wins in legal battles this week.
On the former front, Jay-Z, Timbaland, and Ginuwine had been facing infringement allegations from soul musician Ernie Hines, but a federal judge tossed the years-old action for multiple reasons. And following a May jury decision in his favor, Ed Sheeran, on the other hand, beat an appeal from the estate of “Let’s Get It On” co-writer Ed Townsend.
Notwithstanding the conclusion of these cases, ex-One Direction member Zayn Malik was a week ago accused of infringing upon a track called “Somebody Tonight” to create his much-streamed “Better” effort. “Without blatant copying, Zayn’s ‘Better’ would never have come to exist in its present form or become a massive worldwide success,” the plaintiff claimed.