Why Prince’s Half-Sister Once Sued Him

Not all families are perfect. Despite what we see on TV, where major family issues are solved and everyone is getting along perfectly again within 30 minutes, real-life family relationships can be messy, toxic, and even litigious. Indeed, any civil court docket in the United States is bound to include at least a few cases where parents sue children, siblings sue each other, cousins sue each other, etc. And, of course, the dispute is almost always centered around money. Indeed, there’s an old saying that says, “Mo’ money, mo’ problems,” meaning the more money you have, the more people you’ll have who are interested in getting some of that for themselves. Back in the 1980s, Prince had a lot of money, and he also had a lot of family members. And it turns out that one of those family members was interested in getting some of her more famous half-brother’s money for herself, which she attempted via a lawsuit that was ultimately thrown out of court, UPI reports.

Lorna Nelson sued Prince — and lost — for copyright infringement

Musicians, performers, songwriters, and their management/legal teams sue each other all of the time, mostly over that vague and nebulous concept known as “copyright infringement.” A few words in the lyrics, a couple of key chord progressions, and even a sequence of a few notes may sound similar enough to a previously-written work that the original writer believes someone has copied them, and they need to be compensated.

Back in the 1980s, Prince wasn’t the only member of his family involved in the music business. His half-sister, Lorna Nelson, as well as other members of the family, were also in the biz, according to UPI. To make an extremely long story short, Lorna had written and copyrighted “What’s Cooking in This Book,” and she believed that her half-brother’s song, “U Got the Look,” was close enough to hers that he’d copied her, and she wanted some money. U.S. District Judge David Doty determined that there were no substantial similarities between the two songs and dismissed the case.

But that wasn’t the end of the story. As the Los Angeles Times reported, Lorna took her case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ultimately decided not to hear the case.

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