We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.

Success! You're on the list.


Will the real Judge Amit P. Mehta please stand up?

In a U.S. District Court for D.C. opinion dated Sept. 17, Mehta, a 40-something Obama nominee who was confirmed last year, cites hip-hop big shots as part of a ruling dismissing plaintiff Robert R. Prunty‘s allegations that French media company Vivendi S.A. and others like Universal Music Group and Atlantic Records infringed his copyright. Prunty claims that Common’s “Kingdom” ripped off his own song “Keys to the Kingdom.”

“The court has reviewed the lyrics of both songs and concludes that, other than the word ‘Kingdom’ appearing in both songs’ titles and the phrase ‘keys to the kingdom’ appearing in both songs’ lyrics, they bear little resemblance to one another,” Mehta writes. “Of course, neither the song title ‘The Keys to the Kingdom’ nor the phrase ‘keys to the kingdom’ is copyrightable material.”

Granting the defendants’ motion to dismiss, Mehta also throws out Prunty’s claims that federal judge Paul Friedman decided against him in a similar 2007 case owing to “racial animus” and as part as of a conspiracy “to hide from him Judge Freidman’s alleged financial interest in Defendants Vivendi SA and [Universal Music Group] Recordings, Inc.”

But Mehta clearly saved the best for last: On the final two pages of the seven-page opinion, he finds he “is capable of concluding as a matter of law, without the assistance of expert testimony, that the songs ‘Keys to the Kingdom’ and ‘Kingdom’ are not substantially similar.”

“This court also does not consider itself an ordinary ‘lay person’ when it comes to hip-hop music and lyrics,” Mehta writes in a footnote attached to that sentence. “The court has listened to hip hop for decades and considers among his favorite musical artists, perhaps a sign of his age, Jay-ZKanye West, Drake, and Eminem.”

Lose yourself in this sui generis court opinion:

[documentcloud url=”https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/2515672-show-public-doc.html”]

h/t Zoe Tillman

Photo by thecomeupshow via Wikimedia Commons