Mariah Carey’s Christmas hit targeted in $20-million lawsuit

Mariah Carey is being sued for copyright infringement over her hit single ‘All I Want for Christmas Is You’ by Andy Stone, the man who wrote another Christmas hit of the same title. But his fight for at least $20 million in damages is likely to be an uphill battle, according to an entertainment attorney.

Stone, who performs under the name Vince Vance, claims that Carey’s song – which has been certified multiple platinum around the world – is “a derivative work” based on a Christmas carol of the same name he wrote and recorded in 1989. His attorney contacted the defendants in December 2021, the lawsuit said, but was “unable to reach an agreement” on the continued release of Carey’s 1994 song.

The Vince Vance & the Valiants version of “All I Want” “aired extensively during the 1993 holiday season” and “began to appear on the Billboard charts that year,” according to the lawsuit, which was filed by The Times . What Stone claims to be the relationship between the two songs is unclear. Carey’s tune is an upbeat pop number while Stone’s is a low-key country song.

Stone’s lawsuit states that the performer “personally asked Carey” to stop and desist from publishing her song. It’s unclear when Stone became aware of Carey’s record, which has been streamed more than 1 billion times.

A Carey representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday.

Stone “faces major hurdles in obtaining damages,” Beverly Hills attorney Michael Peters of Ramo Law told The Times via email Monday.

“By listening to the two songs in question, any layperson (or juror) can probably tell that comparing the music and lyrics does not bode well for Stone’s damages,” said Peters, who specializes in entertainment law.

The use of “general tropes of the Christmas tradition (e.g. gifts, mistletoe, wish lists, etc.) will also not be very useful to Stone in this suit,” Peters said, as those are likely to be found Scene a fair – or a “scene that must be done” – in the context of a Christmas carol. Also, titles cannot be copyrighted.

The rest, he said, depends on “how the jury takes the analysis and testimony of the parties’ respective musicologists as that goes through to the trial.”

Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You” was co-written by the singer and Walter Afanasieff, who is also named as a defendant in the lawsuit along with Sony Music Entertainment, a subsidiary of Sony Corporation of America. Since its release on the album “Merry Christmas” in October 1994, Carey’s single has grossed more than $60 million, though it didn’t hit No. 1 on the Billboard charts until 2019, a quarter-century after its release.

“I started by sitting at the piano and plucking notes. It’s not typical – I usually sing a melody to a pianist and he plays the chords I hear. But in this case, I just sat there and made up this tune, in a dark house with a Christmas tree,” Carey told The Times in December 2020. “It kind of came out: [sings] Everything I want for Christmas... I can’t tell you how this tune came to me. I really consider it a gift.”

She said she brought the tune to Afanasieff and the two wrote the bridge together.

“We wanted it to feel classic. I didn’t want it to feel like the 90’s. For people who are nostalgic about the 90s, it probably feels like the 90s now. But it was different in the ’90s,” she said in 2020.

Vince Vance and the Valiants’ All I Want for Christmas Is You features vocals by country singer Lisa Burgess Stewart, now recording as Lisa Layne. Country pop star Kelly Clarkson released a cover of the tune in 2020.

https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/music/story/2022-06-06/mariah-carey-sued-lawsuit-all-i-want-for-christmas-is-you Mariah Carey’s Christmas hit targeted in $20-million lawsuit

Sarah Ridley

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