Copyright lawsuit over Childish Gambino’s “This Is America” dismissed

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Scott Kowalchyk/CBS

A Manhattan federal judge has ruled that Childish Gambino‘s “This Is America” didn’t infringe on the copyright of another song. In a decision issued Friday, Judge Victor Marrero dismissed the 2021 suit, which claimed the rapper’s hit was “practically identical” to Kidd Wes‘ 2016 song “Made In America.”

“A cursory comparison with the challenged composition reveals that the content of the choruses is entirely different and not substantially similar,” the judge wrote. He said that Wes’ song was a “short, simple, self-aggrandizing proclamation,” while Gambino, born Donald Glover, rapped about “what America means and how it is perceived.”

Marrero also noted the flow and other characteristics of Wes’ song lacked “sufficient originality,” adding the jury could not find similarities that constitute copyright infringement.

“More could be said on the ways these songs differ, but no more airtime is needed to resolve this case,” the judge continued. The case was also dismissed because Kidd Wes, born Emelike Nwosuocha, didn’t get the federal copyright registration for his song.

“No case existed here, as there was no infringement – let alone a copyright registration,” Gambino’s attorney Jonathan D. Davis told Billboard of the ruling, noting he and his client are “very grateful” for the judge’s decision. “That was obvious from a simple comparison of the two songs and a review of the U.S. Copyright Office records.”

Nwosuocha’s attorneys Imran H. Ansari and La’Shawn N. Thomas say they are “understandably disappointed.” “[Kidd Wes] stands by his music, creativity, and the independence of grassroots artists to create their own music, and receive credit where credit is due, without the fear of it being apportioned by another,” they said. Wes is considering an appeal.

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