It's a common debate at this time of the year: when is it too soon to start playing Christmas songs? Can festive hits be played as soon as Halloween is out of the way, or is US Thanksgiving the starting point, or maybe midday on 24 Dec? But here's another question for you: when is it too early to be filing your Christmas song litigation? Is 1 Nov ahead of the mark for such things?
Well, songwriter Vince Vance will be hoping not, because he's just filed his latest lawsuit claiming song theft in relation to Mariah Carey's 'All I Want For Christmas Is You'. That's exactly a year to the day that he was last making filings with a court in relation to this claim. Though on 1 Nov 2022 he was actually dismissing a lawsuit, not launching one.
Anyway, Vance co-wrote a song called 'All I Want For Christmas Is You' that was originally released in 1989 and then enjoyed notable success around Christmas 1993. You know, the year before Carey released her big Christmas hit.
"Carey’s 'All I Want For Christmas Is You' copies plaintiffs’ compositional structure of an extended comparison between a loved one and trappings of seasonal luxury, and further includes several of plaintiffs’ lyrical phrases", says Vance's new lawsuit.
Just like the original 'All I Want For Christmas Is You', it goes on, "defendants’ work contains a repeated two-part sequence with seasonal trappings being rejected in favour of a longing to be with an unnamed 'you' through an extended comparison".
And "defendants undoubtedly had access to 'All I Want For Christmas Is You' prior to writing and releasing 'All I Want For Christmas Is You'", the lawsuit adds, "given its wide commercial and cultural success".
Vance's original lawsuit on this claim was filed in the decidedly un-festive month of June with the courts in Louisiana. The new legal battle is being fought in the state of California. Like last time, Carey's co-writer on her hit, Walter Afanasieff, is a co-defendant. However, this time the co-writer of Vance's 'All I Want For Christmas Is You' - Tory Powers - is also involved as a plaintiff.
Sony was the only corporate defendant last time, whereas this time Universal and Kobalt are also being pulled into the dispute.
Vance and Powers want the court to confirm that Carey and Afanasieff's 'All I Want For Christmas Is You' infringes their version, and they'd like some very festive damages of no less than $20 million.