Songwriter Sues Over Mariah Carey Hit

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Postby Crave » Tue Jan 09, 2001 1:13 pm

Songwriter Sues Over Mariah Carey Hit
Words: Chris Richburg

A California songwriter filed a copyright infringement lawsuit in United States District Court for the Central District of California on Friday Jan. 5 over the single “I Still Believe.â€￾ The single was a hit for Brenda K. Starr in the ’80s and for Mariah Carey in the ’90s.

Songwriter Kathi Pinto alleges in the suit that she co-wrote a song entitled “I Still Believeâ€￾ in 1981, which was sold to music publisher Galen Senogles at Simple Song Music that same year. As the song switched hands among various publishers and record execs over the years through Pinto’s desire for a recording contract, it eventually ended up in the hands of Tom Sturges at Chrysalis Records around 1985. Sturges allegedly helped pen a tune called “I Still Believeâ€￾ with Antonina Armato and Beppe Canarelli, which was later recording by Motown recording artist Bunny DeBarge in 1986.

The suit reads, in part, “The infringing song incorporates and copies the theme, words, and music of [Pinto’s original]. In particular, the infringing song copies almost exactly the title-hook line in the chorus of [Pinto’s original], the most memorable and commercially important part of the [Pinto’s original]. The infringing song repeats this title-hook line several times in the chorus.â€￾

A year later, Starr, a Chrysalis artist, also recorded a version of the song. At the time, Starr’s back-up singer was a young woman named Mariah Carey. After Carey’s rise to superstardom throughout the ’90s, a version by the singer appeared on her 1998 greatest hits compilation “#1’s,â€￾ which was a worldwide smash. All this -- alleges Pinto -- without her permission or knowledge.

Pinto is suing for copyright infringement, violation of the Lanham Act, unfair competition, unjust enrichment, and accounting. In addition to Sony Music, Pinto also names Sturges, Armato, Cantarelli, Chrysalis Music Corp., and EMI Music Publishing in the suit.



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