H.E.R. Settles Copyright Lawsuit Over 2016 Song ‘Focus’

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A lawsuit filed against H.E.R., as well as DJ Camper, Justin Love and Sony Music Entertainment, over the 2016 song “Focus” has reached a settlement, Billboard has learned.

The complaint, which was filed in the U.S. District Court in Southern New York in June 2020, alleged that the song “Focus” intentionally infringed upon Andre Sims’ original composition “Endless Minds” without receiving his consent or giving him compensation. Sims, a songwriter and piano player who’s worked with artists like Stevie Wonder, created the song in 2004, posted it on Instagram and YouTube in 2015, and registered it with the U.S. Copyright Office in January 2020.

During an Instagram Live video, Camper (real name Darhyl Camper Jr.) said Sims’ song “Endless Minds” did inspire the melody of “Focus,” which he co-wrote with H.E.R. (real name Gabriella Wilson) and Love (real name Justin Anthony Barroso) and co-produced with H.E.R. Sims initially filed a $3 million lawsuit that accused the trio and the song’s distributor Sony of copyright infringement and requested injunctive and monetary relief.

The original complaint alleged, “To write and record ‘Focus,’ and ultimately to produce, perform, distribute and otherwise exploit ‘Focus,’ Defendants [H.E.R., Camper, Love and Sony] copied ‘Endless Minds,’ to which they had prior access, resulting in the song ‘Focus,’ which is so similar to ‘Endless Minds’ that the ordinary observer could easily determine that the songs sound the same in their essential compositional and other elements.”

Terms of the settlement were not disclosed.

“I’m happy we could reach a resolution, and would like to thank everyone for their support and prayers,” Sims said in an official statement. He’s represented by James L. Walker Jr. and Renorda Pryor. Walker, of the Atlanta-based law firm J. Walker and Associates LLP, previously sued Sony BMG Music Entertainment for interfering with their musical clients’ contractual relationships in 2005.

“At this point, we have nothing more to say then we are pleased to see the case resolved and settled. Now, all parties can move on with their lives,” Walker said. “Special thanks to all of the attorneys involved who worked tirelessly to close this matter out.”

Reps for H.E.R. had not returned Billboard’s request for comment at press time.

While “Focus” barely cracked the Billboard Hot 100, hitting No. 100 in 2018, it secured the singer/songwriter her first-ever No. 1 on a Billboard songs chart when it topped the Adult R&B Airplay tally the same year. “Focus” dethroned Ella Mai’s “Boo’d Up” to reach the top spot but eventually lost to Mai’s hit at both the 2018 Soul Train Music Awards, where “Focus” was up for the Ashford & Simpson’s songwriters award, and 2019 Grammy Awards, where H.E.R.’s song was nominated for best R&B song. H.E.R. performed “Focus” at the 2018 BET Awards, on the Today show in 2019 and, most recently, at her Hollywood Bowl show with the LA Philharmonic last week.

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