In 2014, a musician named Joel McDonald, who goes by the stage name Joel Mac, filed suit against Jay Z, Kanye West and Frank Ocean over the song “Made in America.” The track first debuted on Jay Z and West’s album Watch the Throne in 2011 and features Ocean on the chorus.
According to McDonald, “Made in America” copied the concept from his 2009 track with the same name. However, in fall of last year, a district court dismissed his suit. McDonald appealed the ruling, and now the court of appeals has come to the same conclusion.
“We have considered all of McDonald’s arguments and find them to be without merit,” the court said in a summary order.
Take a listen to the two “Made in America” songs and see if you agree. Here’s Joel Mac’s version:
And here’s Jay Z, Kanye West and Frank Ocean:
Pitchfork reached out to McDonald, who represented himself, but he has yet to comment. The defendants’ lawyer did not respond, either.
It seems a little weird that in something as high stakes as a copyright lawsuit against some big name talent, Joel McDonald would opt to represent himself. Maybe he has a good working knowledge of the legal system, but we’d still want to call in the big guns if we were going after the likes of Kanye West and Jay Z. You can bet that those two had some high-powered, experienced lawyers of their own to manage the situation.
There have been plenty of other copyright lawsuits lately, and one of the most notable ones, Marvin Gaye‘s estate’s suit against Robin Thicke over “Blurred Lines” is still under review.