If Beyoncé ever had a reason to say “boy, bye” it’s right now. Making it clear that she’s legally “a dragon breathing fire”, not to mention a recognized musical monarch, a New York federal judge on Wednesday dismissed an indie filmmaker’s lawsuit that accused her of copying his work for her award-winning visual album Lemonade.
In June this year, Matthew Fulks, a Louisville filmmaker filed the lawsuit against Beyoncé and the singer’s management company, Parkwood Entertainment, along with Sony Music Entertainment and Columbia Recording Corp.
In the lawsuit, Fulks alleges that the Lemonade trailer is “substantially similar” to his short-film, Palinoia, and that it contains nine specific visual elements that he says were “misappropriated from” his short movie. These supposedly stolen elements make up a little more than half of the Lemonade trailer, and according to the wording of the lawsuit, they include things like “graffiti and persons with head down,” “red persons with eyes obscured,” “parking garage,” “title card screens,” “feet on the street,” and “side-lit ominous figures.”
Beyonce’s attorneys fired back in July, saying those elements — such as “graffiti and persons with heads down,” “parking garage” and “side-lit ominous figures” — are textbook examples of what does not constitute copyright infringement. Her lawyers also pointed out that the narratives for each film are completely divergent, with Beyoncé’s Lemonade portraying “an African-American woman who progresses through stages of suspicion, denial, anger and, ultimately, reconciliation in her relationship.” Meanwhile, Fulks’ Palinoia is about “a white man who is distressed in the wake of a relationship.”
U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff agreed, as he granted the singer’s motion to dismiss. Rakoff hasn’t detailed the reasons for his opinion yet, writing only:
“Upon full consideration of the parties’ briefs and oral arguments, the Court grants defendants’ motion. A memorandum explaining the reasons for this ruling will issue in due course, at which time final judgment will be entered.”