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Usher Accused of Plagiarism by Songwriter Over ‘Burn’ Track

Mike Coppola, Getty Images

Usher is being accused of plagiarism over his former No. 1 song ‘Burn,’ which was released in 2004. Songwriter Ernest Lee Straughter is the one making the claim against the smooth R&B crooner.

Billboard reports that a California federal judge ruled that there is sufficient “evidence” to suggest the possibility that Usher and co-defendants like Jermaine Dupri, who co-wrote the song, actually had access to and borrowed from Straughter’s ‘The Reasons Why,’ which he created in 1998. His initial song was retooled into a song called ‘No More Pain,’ which was used by a group called Reel Tight.

A musicologist submitted a report that detailed the points of musical similarity between the songs and the judge accepted it, refusing to dismiss the case as requested by Usher’s legal team. The case could eventually go to trial, with a jury being asked to listen to the songs and determine if they hear enough similarity to prove that Usher jacked the song.

But Usher is not just going to let that happen. He is asking the judge to take a closer look at the case in regards to the fact that he was actually familiar with Straughter’s work. He is pleading for a dismissal.

The key points here are the similarities between the songs and whether or not Usher had access to Straughter’s work. Straughter has several suggestions as to how Usher may have come across his work, with the most believable being a third party link. In this case, it is entirely plausible that Warren G, who collaborated with both parties, could have introduced Usher to Staughter’s work. That whole six degrees of separation thing, you know! Also, the song by Reel Tight was commercially available, meaning Usher could have heard it.

However, it’s not that simple. Usher’s team argues that Warren G. was not involved in ‘Burn’ or its creation, so there is no viable link there. They also argue that Reel Tight’s song was not a hit and barely achieved any radio play, so it was not popular enough for Usher to have heard it. Have you ever heard of Reel Tight? Usher’s point exactly.

The judge will considered these arguments and decide once more if the case will go to a jury, which is very rare in song theft cases.

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