January 30, 2018 / 8:13 PM / in 4 months

U2 defeats lawsuit claiming it stole part of 'Achtung Baby' song

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A U.S. judge on Tuesday dismissed a lawsuit accusing U2 of lifting part of a British songwriter’s work for a song on the Irish rock band’s 1991 blockbuster album “Achtung Baby.”

Irish group U2 receive an award at the 2017 MTV Europe Music Awards at Wembley Arena in London, Britain, November 12, 2017. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez/File Photo

U.S. District Judge Denise Cote in Manhattan rejected Paul Rose’s claim that U2 willfully copied from a 13-second guitar riff near the start of his 1989 instrumental “Nae Slappin,” to create a 12-second segment featuring a guitar solo for its song “The Fly.”

Rose, who lives in New York, claimed that U2 copied from his song “virtually note-for-note,” and also used a tambourine and the same drum, percussion and bass line without permission.

But the judge said the riff was not a “sufficiently substantial” portion of “Nae Slappin,” a 3-1/2-minute composition that “demonstrates the plaintiff’s impressive guitar skills,” to be a protectable “fragment” of the work.

She also said that even if the riff were protectable, a reasonable jury could not find that U2 copied it.

Rose had been seeking at least $5 million in damages from U2 lead singer Bono; bandmates The Edge, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Jr., and UMG Recordings Inc, a Vivendi SA unit that releases records under U2’s label Island Records.

He claimed he had given Island a demo tape of “Nae Slappin” that was later incorporated into “The Fly.”

A lawyer for Rose did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Lawyers for the defendants did not immediately respond to similar requests.

The case is Rose v Hewson et al, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 17-01471.

Reporting by Jonathan Stempel and Jan Wolfe in New York; Editing by Tom Brown

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