Childish Gambino Dodges Lawsuit Claiming He Jacked “This Is America” From Another Artist

Donald Glover has gotten out of a lawsuit accusing him of stealing his 2018 hit single “This Is America” after the claim was rejected by a federal appeals court.

According to Billboard, on Friday (May 10), the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit upheld a judge’s decision to dismiss the lawsuit, filed by Emelike Nwosuocha, otherwise known as rapper Kidd Wes. The ruling was made on the grounds that Nwosuocha had failed to secure the proper copyright registration for his own 2016 release, “Made In America,” a song he claims was later hijacked by Glover and reworked into “This Is America.”

“Nwosuocha’s problem is that his copyright registration is simply for the wrong work,” the appeals court wrote of its ruling. “That distinction is important.” According to the judge, the plaintiff had secured a copyright to the master recording of the song, but not the actual composition he claims is “practically identical” to Glover’s chart-topping smash.

Childish Gambino performs onstage during the 2018 iHeartRadio Music Festival at T-Mobile Arena on September 21, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Kevin Winter/Getty Images for iHeartMedia

“The distinction between a sound recording and a musical work is not just an administrative classification,” the judge wrote. “That statutory distinction is important because sound recordings and musical works are different artistic works that can be copyrighted by different creators and are infringed in different ways.”

Nwosuocha originally filed suit against Glover in May 2021, accusing the actor, who also raps under the name Childish Gambino, with stealing the “flow” and cadence of “Made In America” for “This Is America,” which became Glover’s biggest release to date. The song would peak at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for two consecutive weeks and win Grammy Awards for Record of the Year and Song of the Year in 2019.

Donald Glover At 'Atlanta' Event

Donald Glover attends FX’s “Atlanta Robbin’ Season” FYC Event at Saban Media Center on June 8, 2018 in North Hollywood, California.

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Friday’s decision upheld a prior ruling made in March 2023 by Judge Victor Marrero, who determined that Nwosuocha’s “Made In America” and Glover’s “This Is America” bore little resemblance to each other and each included portions entirely different to that of the other.

“A cursory comparison with the challenged composition reveals that the content of the choruses is entirely different and not substantially similar,” Marrero wrote at the time. “More could be said on the ways these songs differ, but no more airtime is needed to resolve this case.”

Unless Nwosuocha’s case goes to the U.S. Supreme Court, which is said to be highly unlikely, the latest ruling marks the end of Glover’s legal battle, this time for good.