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Beyonce expected to testify in copyright trial

November 9, 2009 9:28:14 AM PST
Did pop diva Beyonce Knowles and her Destiny's Child rip off a Chicago songwriter's song?A copycat claim contained in a 2006 lawsuit is expected to land the "Bootylicious" sensation in a witness chair next month as part of a copyright infringement trial to be held in Chicago's federal courthouse.

In dispute is a song titled "Cater 2 U" released by Destiny's Child in a 2004 compilation called "Destiny Fulfilled." The video features sultry scenes of the musical trio proclaiming: "Whatever you desire, I'll aspire."

But Chicago songwriter and performer Rickey Allen says it's his song, and a judge has given the green light for a jury to hear his claims against Mrs. Jay-Z.

Allen first copyrighted his "Cater 2 U," -- with the same spelling -- in the mid-1990s. He performed the song locally and updated the copyright three times, as recently as 2000.

Allen's song is about "relieving the stress of a significant other, and getting them to relax." He says Destiny Child's version contains similar steamy lyrics.

When Allen's song says: "I want to rub you down," Destiny's Child asks: "Want a foot rub?"

Allen's lyrics say: "The tub has hot steam rising," and "I'm waiting to soak your body through."

The Destiny's Child song offers to: "Let me run your bath water."

"Do we say [Beyonce's] responsible for copying? Yes. But there's no such thing as innocent copying, even if it's unintentional," said Allen's lawyer, Matt Wildermuth. "The jury will decide the notion that these are simple coincidences."

Allen says he passed a copy of his "Cater 2 U" to Chicago remixer Maurice Joshua, and the two planned to collaborate on a demo.

That never happened, Allen says. But Joshua later spent several hours in a session with Destiny's Child recording a different song, according to court papers. Joshua says he never had a copy of Allen's work.

Lawyers for the threesome say the case has no merit and asked that it be tossed.

It was Knowles who was the source for the idea of "Cater 2 U," her lawyers said in a court filing.

"She is perhaps the most important witness for the defendants," they said.

U.S. District Judge James Holderman has ruled there's enough evidence for the case to go before a jury, pointing to Joshua as the link and saying it's possible he could have provided a copy of Allen's song before they released their hit. The trial was delayed once because of conflicts with Knowles' schedule but is set for Dec. 10.

(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire - Copyright Chicago Sun-Times 2009.)


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