Future Prevails in Copyright Infringement Lawsuit: A Closer Look at the Verdict 

In a recent ruling delivered by U.S. District Judge Martha Pacold, rapper Future, legally known as Nayvadius Wilburn, emerged victorious in a copyright infringement lawsuit filed against him by rapper Gutta, also known as DaQuan Robinson. The Chicago federal court verdict, announced on August 25, 2021, marks a significant win for Future, as the judge deemed that his song “When I Think About It” did not infringe on Gutta’s composition, titled “When U Think About It”[^1^]. 

The Legal Battle Unveiled 

The legal dispute between Future and Gutta originated in 2021, when Gutta sued Future, accusing him of copying his song. Gutta claimed that he had sent the track to rapper Doe Boy and producer Zaytoven in 2017, both of whom were associated with Future’s record label[^1^]. It’s worth noting that Doe Boy and Zaytoven were not named as defendants in the lawsuit. 

Analyzing the Ruling 

In her ruling, Judge Pacold acknowledged that both songs shared similar title phrases and themes. However, she determined that the musical compositions were not similar enough to establish copyright infringement. Pacold emphasized that the title phrases used by both artists, such as “when you think about it” or “when I think about it,” lacked the uniqueness required for copyright protection. According to the judge, these phrases resembled fragments of everyday speech commonly found in popular music[^1^]. 

To support her decision, Judge Pacold cited examples from various renowned artists. She noted that themes such as guns, money, and jewelry are commonly explored in rap music, referring to tracks like The Notorious B.I.G.’s “Machine Gun Funk,” Wu-Tang Clan’s “C.R.E.A.M.,” and Kanye West’s “Diamonds from Sierra Leone.” By highlighting these precedents, Pacold demonstrated that the exploration of these themes is a well-established trend in the genre[^1^]. 

Furthermore, the judge referenced Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young’s 1970 hit “Our House” to debunk Gutta’s claim of a copyright-protected “core lyric.” Pacold explained that the use of a “core lyric” to support a song’s storyline is not unique to Gutta or mid-century Canadian-American bands known for their intricate vocal harmonies. Employing a “core lyric” as a songwriting technique is a commonly utilized method in popular music, and therefore, it is not a protectable element[^1^]. 

The Impact of the Verdict 

Judge Pacold’s ruling in favor of Future has significant implications for the music industry. It reinforces the notion that certain phrases and themes, while recurring in multiple compositions, do not automatically qualify for copyright protection. This ruling emphasizes the importance of distinguishing between unoriginal elements and substantial similarities in musical compositions when determining copyright infringement claims[^1^]. 

Future’s victory in this case also highlights the complex nature of copyright disputes within the music industry. The judge’s thorough analysis of previous works and industry standards showcases the need for a deep understanding of the genre and its common practices when evaluating copyright infringement allegations[^1^]. 


The ruling in the copyright infringement lawsuit against Future serves as a testament to the importance of carefully examining the similarities between musical compositions. Judge Pacold’s comprehensive analysis of the songs involved, along with her reference to established precedents, ultimately led to her decision in favor of Future. This outcome reaffirms the need for originality and substantial similarities in copyright claims, while acknowledging the prevalence of certain themes and phrases in popular music. As the music industry continues to evolve, this ruling will undoubtedly shape the future of copyright disputes and set a precedent for future cases[^1^]. 


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