American multimedia artist Stephanie Sarley is broadening the scope of her copyright infringement lawsuit, targeting not only Shenseea, but also Marco ‘FrameXGod’ Ruiz, the Florida-based director of the contentious music video for the Jamaican singer’s 2019 track, Foreplay.
Sarley now seeks to hold FrameXGod directly accountable for the alleged copyright infringement, alongside Shenseea and her record label Interscope Records, a subsidiary of UMG Recordings Inc, according to a motion for amendment filed on Wednesday, May 17.
She noted that after she called out the alleged infringement on Instagram over three years ago, FrameXGod offered to give her “credit” for her work.
“Ruiz contacted Sarley and admitted ‘I’m the director from the music video from Shenseea’ and that it ‘just so happened we sampled your [works],’” noted Sarley in the proposed amended complaint obtained by DancehallMag. “Ruiz offered to ‘give [Sarley] credit somehow’ and suggested that ‘if anything, this could help with your promotion on your page and YouTube.’”
Sarley had initially filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California on October 21, 2022, against Shenseea and Interscope. She accused them of unlawfully appropriating nearly forty seconds of footage from three of her sensual fruit video clips. These sequences, Sarley alleged, were subtly altered in tone or hue and incorporated into the Foreplay music video without her permission.
Her complaint sought an unspecified award of damages and profits, or alternatively, statutory damages of up to $150,000 for each of her three original works allegedly utilized without consent.
However, Interscope and Shenseea, whose real name is Chinsea Linda Lee, refuted Sarley’s allegations and opted for the It Wasn’t Me defense.
In their February 3 response to the lawsuit, they asserted that they neither copied nor directed anyone else to copy any elements of Sarley’s works. They also claimed that, if any infringement had occurred, it wasn’t their responsibility as it would have been the fault of other persons or entities over which they had no control or authority.
In her proposed amended complaint filed on Wednesday, Sarley now aims to level further allegations of contributory and/or vicarious copyright infringement against Shenseea and Interscope, suggesting that they had the right and the ability to control the creation of the allegedly infringing music video, but failed to exercise that right even though they knew of the infringement and benefitted financially from it.
Produced by Rvssian, Foreplay was released in October 2019, after Shenseea signed with Interscope Records and his Rich Immigrants imprint in May of that year.
The original video was subsequently removed from YouTube.
In early December 2019, Shenseea released an edited version of the Foreplay video, devoid of Sarley’s fruit clips. It now stands at 20 million views on YouTube.
The decision to amend the initial lawsuit emerged from discussions between Sarley and Shenseea’s legal teams on May 10, 2023.
Sarley’s attorneys shared a copy of the proposed First Amended Complaint with Shenseea’s team, followed by a telephonic conference on May 12, 2023. After reviewing the proposed changes, Shenseea’s attorneys promptly indicated that they would oppose the motion.
However, according to the court records, Sarley’s attorneys have insisted that the involvement of video director FrameXGod is a logical and necessary expansion of the lawsuit, as it arises from the same alleged copyright-infringing activities.
The Court will decide whether to allow the amendment.