NEW YORK (Reuters) – A U.S. judge on Tuesday dismissed a lawsuit accusing U2 of lifting part of a British songwriter’s work for a song on the Irish rock band’s 1991 blockbuster album “Achtung Baby.”
U.S. District Judge Denise Cote in Manhattan rejected Paul Rose’s claim that U2 willfully copied from a 13-second guitar riff near the start of his 1989 instrumental “Nae Slappin,” to create a 12-second segment featuring a guitar solo for its song “The Fly.”
Rose, who lives in New York, claimed that U2 copied from his song “virtually note-for-note,” and also used a tambourine and the same drum, percussion and bass line without permission.
But the judge said the riff was not a “sufficiently substantial” portion of “Nae Slappin,” a 3-1/2-minute composition that “demonstrates the plaintiff’s impressive guitar skills,” to be a protectable “fragment” of the work.
She also said that even if the riff were protectable, a reasonable jury could not find that U2 copied it.
Rose had been seeking at least $5 million in damages from U2 lead singer Bono; bandmates The Edge, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Jr., and UMG Recordings Inc, a Vivendi SA unit that releases records under U2’s label Island Records.
He claimed he had given Island a demo tape of “Nae Slappin” that was later incorporated into “The Fly.”
A lawyer for Rose did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Lawyers for the defendants did not immediately respond to similar requests.
The case is Rose v Hewson et al, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 17-01471.
Reporting by Jonathan Stempel and Jan Wolfe in New York; Editing by Tom Brown