At issue is a song Straughter created in 1998 called ‘The Reasons Why’ which was recorded by a group called Reel Tight under the title ‘No More Pain’ late that year.
Billboard reports that a federal judge in California accepted a report submitted by a musicologist detailing similarities between the two songs, and has refused to dismiss the case.
The judge found that there was sufficient possibility that Usher and his collaborators on the song — who include Jermaine Dupri, one of the co-writers — had access to Straughter’s work. Straughter offered several possible theories, the most plausible being that an intermediary — in this case, rapper Warren G, who has collaborated with both Usher and Reel Tight — might have provided Usher and Dupri with the song. The defendants dispute that, saying Warren G had nothing to do with ‘Burn’s’ creation.
The judge also discovered that Reel Tight’s album reached number 197 on the Billboard 200 chart for one week in 1999 and also reached number 32 on Billboard’s R & B/Hip-Hop Albums chart, and thus Usher and his collaborators could have heard the song because of its — as the complaint put it — “wide dissemination.” The defendants dispute how widely the song was disseminated, noting that it got very little airplay.
The judge will now reconsider the arguments and determine if the case should go before a jury — rare in song theft cases.
Check out Usher’s song ‘Burn,’ along with Reel Tight’s song ‘No More Pain.’