Beyoncé and Jay Z have walked away in victorious in the lawsuit filed by a Hungarian folk singer who alleges the duo sampled her voice without permission.
via Page Six:
The Hungarian Roma, who goes by Mitsou, was shocked when friends heard her singing a cappella for the first 13 seconds of Beyoncé’s song after it was suddenly released without any promotion in December 2013.
“Mitsou’s voice was sampled and digitally manipulated without her permission” for Beyoncé’s Grammy-nominated “Drunk in Love,” the 2014 Manhattan suit charges.
Mitsou, whose full name is Mónika Juhász Miczur, released the traditional folk song “Gypsy Life on the Road” in the US in 1997.
Mitsou’s vocals dominate 1½ minutes of the 5½-minute song. The rest of the track features Beyoncé’s voice with Jay Z rapping alongside her.
The song’s video won Best Collaboration at the MTV Video Music Awards and has been viewed over 236 million times on YouTube.
Mitsou sued for unspecified monetary damages, claiming the “blatant unauthorized use of [her] voice for trade purposes is causing irreparable harm and emotional distress.”
But Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Cynthia Kern tossed the case because Mitsou was suing under the state Civil Rights Law, which only protects a “name, portrait, picture or voice used for advertising or trade purposes without written consent.”
Kern wrote that “courts have consistently held that Civil Rights Law does not apply to works of literary and artistic expression.
“It is undisputed that the ‘Drunk in Love’ song and video are works of artistic expression and, pursuant to well established law, they are therefore exempted from the Civil Rights Law,” Kern said.
The judge also didn’t buy Mitsou’s argument that the Civil Rights Law applies to the song and video because they were used in HBO ads and a series promoting Beyoncé’s concert tour.
That use “does not vitiate their character as works of artist expression,” Kern wrote
We’re all for artistic expression, but we kind of feel for Mitsou. It must be incredibly frustrating hearing your voice and your song being used by two of the biggest names in music and not being able to do anything about it.