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Beyonce and Jay-Z sued over Black Effect monologue

By | Published on Thursday 18 June 2020

Beyonce & Jay-Z

Beyonce and Jay-Z have been sued by a Jamaican choreographer and academic whose voice is heard at the start of ‘Black Effect’, a track on their 2018 collaborative album ‘Everything Is Love’. Dr Lenora Stines says that she did not even know her comments about what the word ‘love’ meant to her were being recorded, let alone that that recording would subsequently appear as part of a track on the defendants’ album.

In a lawsuit filed with the courts in Florida, Stines says that she was engaged by the two musicians when they recorded a promotional video for ‘Everything Is Love’ in Jamaica in March 2018. Stines recruited various local dancers to take part in the video and was on site when it was being filmed. It was while on set that her comments about love were recorded.

Stines says that she was forced to sign a contract by reps for Beyonce and Jay-Z and, despite her protestations that she wanted to have the agreement reviewed by a lawyer, she was told there wasn’t time and she had to sign it there and then. But, she adds, those reps assured her that it was a standard contract and was needed in case footage of her appeared in the final edit of the promotional video.

At no point, she says, was there any suggestion audio from that footage might be used in a track. And she didn’t even know that the conversation that appears in ‘Black Effect’ had been recorded.

Employing some dramatic language, the lawsuit states: “To the shock, horror and chagrin of Dr Stines, [‘Everything Is Love’] featured the unauthorised exploitation of her vocals on a song known as ‘Black Effect’. Dr Stines’ horror and chagrin was compounded when she realised that not only were her vocals featured on the recording … but she also discovered that she was not even credited by the defendants for providing her vocals. This discovery left Dr Stines feeling violated and as if the defendants had ‘artistically raped’ her”.

Stines claims that the use of her voice in ‘Black Effect’ infringes copyright, breaches her publicity rights and constitutes unjust enrichment. The lawsuit adds: “Dr Stines’ vocals are featured in the first 60 seconds of the recording, which is approximately five minutes and thirteen seconds long, [which means] her vocals are featured in roughly 19.17% of the recording. The defendants’ use of Dr Stines’ vocals in the recording is, and was, unauthorised and Dr Stines is therefore entitled to compensation”.

Reps for Beyonce and Jay-Z are yet to respond.