Lady Gaga tries to suppress court transcripts about unauthorized use of song sample


CHICAGO — Lady Gaga’s attorneys want a federal judge in Chicago to quash portions of a courtroom discussion about whether she and Jennifer Lopez stole the same unlicensed music sample for songs they released in 2011.

Lawyers for Lady Gaga, whose real name is Stefani Joanne Germanotta, have filed a motion asking that parts of a transcript from a hearing in Chicago last month be redacted, saying the public discussion involved confidential matters both parties agreed to keep secret.

The motion was filed in a 2011 civil lawsuit brought by Chicago musician Rebecca Francescatti, who performs as Rebecca F and who claims that Lady Gaga ripped off elements of her 1999 song “Juda” for Gaga’s 2011 hit “Judas.” Both performers worked with recording engineer Brian Gaynor, who is also being sued along with DJ White Shadow, a group Francescatti’s attorneys said Gaynor helped form to pitch ideas to Lady Gaga.

Lady Gaga came to Chicago in July during the Pitchfork Music Festival to be deposed for this case, said Francescatti’s attorney Bill Niro.

The singer and her record company have shown no interest in settling the case, Niro said. That could change if the lawsuit survives an expected motion asking a judge to dismiss the case.

“Right now, Lady Gaga’s off having a wonderful old time, making millions of dollars,” Niro said. “This isn’t even on her radar screen. But if she has to put her meat dress in the food locker and show up in federal court, raise her right hand and swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, her attitude toward things might change a little bit.”

The lawsuit has uncovered text messages between Lady Gaga and producer RedOne, whose real name is Nadir Khayat, that show Gaga had also stolen another sample loop used in “Judas” and later in Lopez’s song “Invading My Mind” without credit, Niro argued.

The texts and depositions from Lady Gaga and RedOne demonstrate that Lady Gaga knew she had stolen a sample for her hit “Judas” and, to cover her tracks, got Lopez to give her a producing credit on “Invading My Mind” though Gaga admitted she did no work on the track, Francescatti’s attorneys said.

“It looks to me like a conspiracy of silence,” Christopher Niro, another Francescatti attorney, at a Dec. 5 court hearing, according to a transcript. “(Gaga) did nothing. No work.”

But Gaga’s attorney Catherine Spector told Judge Jeffrey Gilbert that Christopher Niro’s theory “just doesn’t really hold up from our perspective” and said allowing him access to records involving Lopez’s work would be “far outside the bounds of discovery” in the case.

A message left for Spector last week was not immediately returned.

In the end, Gilbert agreed, saying the material would not be relevant to Francescatti’s case, though he did allow her attorneys access to records on any “ongoing business activities” Lady Gaga has with the producers who are also being sued.

The case has opened a window into the making of a pop hit. Gilbert remarked that Christopher Niro has already demonstrated Lady Gaga used a loop from reFX Audio Software without credit.

“My sense of this is … the way this music is composed is there isn’t a musician within miles of this,” Christopher Niro said, according to a transcript. “They’re sitting at a computer. They’re picking out segments. They’re mixing them and mashing them and moving them around, and then they create this music. And when it comes out the end of the tunnel, nobody knows what elements went into that.”

Both sides have hired experts to try and untangle the samples and determine whether Lady Gaga stole Francescatti’s work. Discovery in the case is nearly complete, and Lady Gaga’s attorneys are expected to file a motion asking a judge to dismiss the case, Bill Niro said.

Bill Niro said that while he disagrees that last month’s transcript should be redacted, it is not worth fighting over.