Le Tigre’s Kathleen Hanna and Johanna Fateman are suing singer-songwriter Barry Mann over their song “Deceptacon.” Mann filed cease-and-desist letters claiming that “Deceptacon” violates the copyright of his song “Who Put the Bomp (Bomp, Bomp, Bomp).” The suit filed by Hanna and Fateman in the Southern District of New York counters that Mann has no claim over the words of his song because he took them from Black artists.
“Mr. Mann did not create these vocables or song titles; rather, it appears that Mr. Mann and his co-writer copied them from Black doo-wop groups active during the late 1950s and early 1960s,” the complaint, obtained by Pitchfork, reads. Specifically, the complaint claims that the “bomp” in Mann’s song is taken from the Marcels’ version of “Blue Moon,” and the “rama lama ding dong” comes from the Edsels track of the same name. The complaint goes on to say that the Le Tigre song should be safe under fair use laws, as the lyrics are substantially transformed in meaning.
This is just one of several legal battles that continue to rage over fair use, interpolation, and appropriation in pop music. Marvin Gaye’s estate won a judgment in 2018 against Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams over “Blurred Lines” and (essentially) the vibes it shared with “Got to Give It Up.” The Gaye estate also sued Ed Sheeran over one of his songs’ resemblance to “Let’s Get It On.” And Olivia Rodrigo wound up giving songwriting credits to Paramore for “good 4 u.”