Mariah Carey, the de facto “Queen of Christmas,” is being sued for alleged copyright infringement over “All I Want For Christmas Is You” by a country music songwriter. The songwriter in question is Andy Stone, who claims his 1989 song “All I Want For Christmas Is You” by Vince Vance & the Valiants has been infringed upon by Carey’s song of the same name. Carey’s record-breaking “All I Want For Christmas Is You” was released in 1994.
As reported by Deadline, Stone filed his suit on Friday, June 3, in the US District Court in the Eastern District of Louisiana. He has named both Carey and her cowriter, Walter Afanasieff, in the lawsuit and is seeking $20 million in damages. However, Pamela Koslyn, a Los Angeles attorney who specializes in intellectual property rights and music, explained to Deadline why Stone’s case is unlikely to go very far.
First and foremost, there’s very little overlap between the lyrics of the songs, and the melodies are different. The only thing the two songs have in common is their titles – and song titles can’t be copyrighted. “Song titles aren’t entitled to copyright protection,” Koslyn told Deadline. “That’s why there are 177 works using the same title.”
She went on to point out that Carey’s “My Baby” title is even more popular. The Copyright Office has more than 4,860 works with the same name. Ultimately, a song title alone can’t infringe on copyright law. For Stone to have a case, his lawyer would have to prove Carey and Afanasieff’s song infringed on his intellectual property in a meaningful way.
This is especially tricky considering just how little the two holiday songs have in common aside from a shared title. Stone’s version of “All I Want For Christmas Is You” is a slow song which features vocals by Lisa Layne. In the song, she croons, “If I wrote a letter to Santa Claus / I would ask for just one thing / I don’t need sleigh rides in the snow / Don’t want a Christmas that’s blue / Take back the tinsel, stockings and bows / Cause all I want for Christmas is you.”
In contrast, Carey’s classic Christmas song is an upbeat pop anthem. “I don’t want a lot for Christmas / There is just one thing I need / Don’t care about the presents underneath the Christmas tree / I don’t need to hang my stocking there upon the fireplace / Santa Claus won’t make me happy with a toy on Christmas Day / I just want you for my own / More than you could ever know / Make my wish come true / All I want for Christmas is you,” the Grammy winner sings.
Interestingly, even after Carey’s song was released, Stone’s country track continued to rank on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart during the holiday season. The song was even covered by Kelly Clarkson in 2020, which suggests Stone and Carey’s same-titled holiday anthems have been coexisting for nearly two decades. Meanwhile, Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas” has made its way to the top of the Billboard Top 100 chart every year since 2019.
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