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Court Favors Gwen Stefani and Pharrell in “Spark the Fire” Copyright Settlement

XX backstage at iHeartRadio Jingle Ball 2014, hosted by Z100 New York and presented by Goldfish Puffs at Madison Square Garden on December 12, 2014 in New York City.

Gwen Stefani and Pharrell were hit with a copyright lawsuit last year regarding their 2014 track “Spark the Fire.” In the lawsuit, musician and former Stefani hairdresser Richard Morrill alleged that Stefani’s song stole its chorus from Morrill’s 1996 song “Who’s Got My Lightah.” Morrill, who later rerecorded the song in 2009, claimed to have it to Stefani in the ’90s, citing the way both song rhyme “lighter” and “fire” on both singles, as well as the two-syllable pronunciation of the word “fire.”

Now, a California federal judge has ruled in favor of Stefani and Pharrell. As Billboard reports, Judge Dolly M. Gee has determined that the similarity of vocal inflection isn’t enough to sustain a copyright claim, and that “he last word on beat four of a line often rhymes. “[P]ronouncing words that end in ‘er’ with an ‘ah’ sound is a common practice in African American Vernacular English,” the Judge said. Based on this ruling, Morrill couldn’t present further evidence to keep the copyright claim alive. View documents obtained by Billboard below via Scribd.

Richard Morrill v Gwen Stef… by on Scribd