With the news that Michael May aka Flourgon has sued Miley Cyrus, her label RCA, and the producer and co-writer of her song Mike Will Made-It for $300 million for copyright infringement, I suspect that we will see a lot more of these types of cases in the future. Flourgon’s lawsuit claims that Miley Cyrus’ hit song “We Can’t Stop” borrows from his 1988 hit “We Run Things”. As we’ve pointed out in previous articles, reggae’s influence on pop culture music is majorly outsized. The use of reggae music and Caribbean culture in pop music has reached a point where the people who are using music, terms, and idioms that they may have heard all their lives growing up in immigrant communities or interacting with people from those communities have no idea of their origins and think its unique to their world.
As reggae artists who were ignorant to the business of music become more educated on the ins and outs of copyright law, music rights, performance rights and as their managers and agents become more savvy, we will finally see artists receive financial compensation for the use of their work. Gone are the days when reggae artists would be flattered by a sample of their music being used by a pop or rap artist. In the music business flattery is worth nothing. Jerry Maguire rules apply. Show me the money. I am certain the lawyers on both sides of this lawsuit will hash it out. Copyright infringement cases in music are very common, and there exists a process for resolving them. It will be interesting to see over the coming weeks, months, and years how reggae artists will begin to fiercely protect their copyrights, and finally get recognition for their creativity.