Uncredited songwriter for Usher receives $44 million

Philadelphia songwriter, Daniel Marino, was recently given $44 million in damages after fighting a seven-year lawsuit over a stolen song by Usher.

In 2004, Usher released his song “Bad Girl” that Marino claimed to have been stolen directly from his work, “Club Girl.”

According to Variety, he created a majority of the song, including its guitar hook, tempo, chord progression and other elements.

Former co-writer, William Guice, was ordered to pay $6.75 million for compensation and $20.25 million in punitive damage. Dante Barton, the owner of Destro Music Productions, decided to pay Marino $17.35 million for his uncredited work.

Between Guice and Barton, Marino was given a little over $44 million for being uncredited on the Usher song “Bad Girl.”

Guice and Barton were responsible for the beat and lyrics of “Bad Girl,” but every other aspect of the song was Marino’s doing.

Marino was upset by not receiving the recognition he deserved, so he filed the first federal lawsuit in 2011.

Originally, the lawsuit was filed against over 20 people, but the judge disregarded all defendants except Guice and Barton. Usher was originally one of the 20 accused of breaching contract and alleging fraud, but the judge dismissed Usher completely.

Usher was not held responsible during the lawsuit because he did not have any part in the formation of the song. He had no clue that the track was practically stolen, so the judge did not give him any consequences for this.

“I think Usher should have been responsible for some of it even if he didn’t know it at the time,” said Taton Smith, freshman forensic chemistry major said. “If he originally would have given him credit it would have solved the whole thing, but he didn’t so I think he should have to pay damages now.”

As previously stated, Marino’s first lawsuit was filed in 2011 and this was not an easy case for him to win in the eyes of the court system.

Marino filed his final lawsuit against the two men in 2016 and finally won Oct. 11, 2018. Many people, including his attorney, Francis Malroy, did not believe he would win this case and felt the odds were against him.

“For seven years, against all odds, we believed in our client and his claims. The $44.35 million verdict and judgment finally vindicates Mr. Marino,” said Malroy in an article with the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Marino now has justice, but there are still many songwriters out there that do not receive credit for their work. Most songwriters do not have the issue with not being credited for their work directly under an artist, but when it comes to plagiarism there are several cases of unacknowledged writers.

Many artists have been accused of plagiarizing songs or not crediting their songwriters correctly.

Famously accused of being plagiarized is the Beatles song “Come Together.” John Lennon was sued by Morris Levy, music producer for Chuck Berry’s song “You Can’t Catch Me.”

Lennon decided to settle for a deal rather than battle it out in court. Ultimately, Lennon agreed to release three songs owned entirely by Levy.

Later on, Lennon sued Levy for using his old bootlegs in his new album, which he ended up winning.

The situation that Marino was placed in is not unheard of and, in fact, happens more often in the industry than people would suspect.

It is nearly impossible to create new pieces of art forms, including music, because everything has been done before in one way or another.

However, it is blatantly obvious when artists steal the exact chords or lyrics from previous songs. They fall into the hundreds of artists accused of plagiarism.

There is a fine line between using the influence of artists and stealing directly. Several artists and classic songs are actually stemmed from stolen music.

“Dani California” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, “Creep” by Radiohead, “Viva La Vida” by Coldplay and even the “Ghostbusters” theme song have all been accused of plagiarizing someone else’s work.

“Especially in music, it’s really hard to come up with original music because there’s only so many combinations you can have with different instruments so I think it’s inevitable to have songs that sound really similar even if the artists are subconsciously influenced by other songs,” said Smith.

Ultimately, Marino was finally compensated for his work that was released in 2004. Although it took over a decade for him to file and win his lawsuit, he is now living lavishly with his new fortune of $44 million.