Plaintiffs alleged that a song recorded and published by defendants, including Usher, willfully copied the plaintiffs' original musical composition. On defendants' Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the Court found that plaintiffs failed to state a claim for copyright infringement because the two songs were not substantially similar as a matter of law. Accordingly, the Court dismissed the sole copyright infringement claim, and declined to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the state law claim for breach of contract.
First, the Court found that the phrase "caught up," which is the title of both songs, is not eligible for copyright protection because it is a common phrase. Second, the Court found that lyrics from the two songs expressing the ideas in question were not substantially similar. Third, the Court ignored bare legal conclusions in the complaint that the songs are substantially similar. Lastly, the Court also took a "holistic" approach, and determined that the two songs' music and lyrics, considered as a whole, confirmed a lack of substantial similarity.