Almost three decades after its first publication, Mariah Carey is being sued for $20 million for alleged copyright infringement involving her holiday megahit All I Want for Christmas Is You.
Since its release in 1994, the song from her album Merry Christmas has become a worldwide classic and a strong favorite in the canon of pop Christmas music. Carey’s song has allegedly earned her more than $60 million in royalties since it has topped the charts in several nations. It has 1 billion streams on Spotify.
Carey and her co-writer, Walter Afanasieff, are mentioned in a complaint filed by musician Andy Stone, saying that the diva never requested or received permission to use his title for her Christmas smash. Ston added that Carey and her colleagues “knowingly, willfully and intentionally engaged in a campaign to infringe [Stone’s] copyright in the work … to the commercial gain, personal profit and unjust enrichment of the defendants and the irreparable injury and financial loss” of Stone.
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The civil suit was filed in the US District Court of the Eastern District of Louisiana also coming after Carey’s co-writer on the song, Walter Afanasieff. Stone says he co-wrote a song with the same name and did not give permission for it to be used and the two songs feature contrasting words and melodies.
According to court documents acquired by PA Media, Stone, whose band Vince Vance and the Valiants recorded and released the song in 1989, has accused Carey and Afanasieff of acting in a way “intended to exploit the fame and unique style” of his music. It had “created confusion,” according to the records.
In her 2020 biography The Meaning of Mariah Carey, she describes her creative process for the hit, which she claims was not initially inspired by the holiday. She wrote, “I did compose most of the song on a cheap Casio keyboard. However, it is the emotion I wanted the song to convey. It possesses sweetness, clarity, and purity.”
Merry Christmas, which Columbia Records published on November 1, 1994, became the best-selling Christmas album of all time in the United States, selling more than 15 million copies worldwide.
According to the lawsuit, Stone’s attorneys contacted Carey and her co-defendants last year but “were unable to reach an arrangement,” as reported by the BBC. The company also alleges that the United States Copyright Office lists 177 entries under the term “All I Want for Christmas Is You.”