All I want for Christmas is $20m

Mariah Carey released “All I want for Christmas is You” in 1994. Now, 28 years later songwriter Andy Stone has filed a lawsuit claiming copyright infringement.

Unless you have been on a desert island all this time, you will recognise this song as it gets (over-) played every year at Christmas time. That’s assuming the BBC didn’t pack you off there with the works of Shakespeare, the Bible and this song! It is, after all, one of the best known festive hits.

christmas music

It is not clear why Mr Stone waited so long before taking action. He has filed a claim before the United States District Court Eastern District of Louisiana that in 1989 he co-wrote a song with the same name and did not give permission for it to be used. He claims Ms Carey exploited his “popularity” and “style”. This is despite the two songs having different lyrics and different melodies. It seems his case focuses on having the same name. But, as BBC reports, the United States Copyright Office lists 177 entries on its website with the same title. And that’s just since 1978.

It was only April that Ed Sheeran won his defence against a claim of copyright. In an entertaining case, Mr Sheeran sang in court to show the similarity of sounds and chords. He proved he hadn’t copied and says he now records his songwriting sessions to avoid future claims. We look forward to Ms Carey singing in court too. However, we think this case is unlikely to get that far.

If you need advice, contact me f.jennings@teacherstern.com or +44 (0) 20 7611 2338.

This article first appeared on the Teacher Stern website.

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