Reggaeton copyright infringement lawsuit targeting over 100 of the genre’s biggest acts to move forward

Reggaeton copyright infringement lawsuit targeting over 100 of the genre’s biggest acts to move forward

A federal judge has recently denied the motion to dismiss a significant copyright lawsuit targeting over 1,000 reggaeton songs from well-known artists such as Bad Bunny and J Balvin.

The lawsuit alleges that these artists participated in the illegal infringement of the instrumental percussion for the song “Fish Market,” which was released in 1989 by Jamaican producers Cleveland “Clevie” Browne and the late Wycliffe “Steely” Johnson.

The case brings together multiple individual lawsuits against reggaeton artists, including both upcoming acts like Danny Ocean and established artists like Daddy Yankee and Zion y Lennox, filed by Browne and the Johnson estate.

According to the filing, the artists are accused of infringing on the drum pattern of “Fish Market,” described as a combination of programmed kick, snare, and hi-hat playing a one bar pattern, percussion instruments, and a synthesized bass note, all of which were original to Browne and Johnson.

The lawsuit also highlights the influence of “Fish Market,” particularly through Jamaican star Shabba Ranks’ track “Dem Bow” in 1990, which popularized the beat’s style and contributed to the development of the reggaeton genre.

Despite some of the named artists demanding dismissal of the case, U.S. District Judge André Birotte Jr. rejected most of the motions to dismiss, citing that the 228-page complaint met the necessary procedural requirements.

The case will now proceed to the discovery process, where both parties will share evidence, conduct depositions, and gather testimonials to further investigate the copyright infringement allegations in the reggaeton industry.


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