It took 28 years, but a songwriter who wrote a Christmas song with the same title five years before Mariah Carey’s popular “All I Want For Christmas Is You” filed a $20 million lawsuit Friday alleging copyright infringement.
Andy Stone wrote, recorded and released a song in 1989 called “All I Want for Christmas Is You” under the stage name Vince Vance (the group is called Vince Vance and the Valiants).
That song — which is well-known in the holiday genre — was released five years before Carey’s song with the same title.
The two songs share nearly nothing else except titles and being filed to the holiday music genre.
Stone alleges in his lawsuit that Carey and co-writer Walter Afanasieff created a “derivative” version of his song without seeking permission.
The suit lists Afanasieff and Sony Music as co-defendants.
Carey’s version is wildly popular and has become the unofficial (official?) holiday season kickoff anthem, with Carey often publicizing the song in a series of social media posts on Oct. 31 and Nov. 1.
Carey’s song has been a No. 1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100, has streamed over 1 billion times on Spotify and has more than 1 billion views on YouTube — not to mention that it’s probably played every minute on some radio station across America between Nov. 1 and Jan. 1. The song title was the name of a 2017 Hallmark Channel Christmas movie that featured Carey and her song.
A lawyer specializing in music and intellectual property rights told Deadline that Stone’s lawsuit faces an uphill battle.
“Song titles aren’t entitled to copyright protection,” lawyer Pamela Koslyn told Deadline. “That’s why there are 177 works using the same title. An even more popular title is ‘My Baby,’ which has 4,860 works registered with the Copyright Office. And that doesn’t even count ‘common law’ (unregistered) works using the same title.”
Despite all of that, and that the song is 29 years old, Stone’s lawyers did not reach out to Carey’s lawyers until … April 2021. A subsequent cease and desist was ignored.
Stone filed the lawsuit in New Orleans because, according to Rolling Stone, the songwriter in April 2022 purchased a copy of Carey’s wildly popular 1994 “Merry Christmas” album. The album features Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You.”
Stone is seeking “profits, gains and advantages derived by the Defendants as a result of willful copyright infringement” to the tune of at least $20 million.
Stone’s song has landed on Billboard’s Hot Country Singles & Tracks six times, peaking at No. 31 in 1999-2000. It peaked at No. 23 on Billboard’s Hot 100 Recurrent Airplay in 2002.
Kelly Clarkson revived Stone’s song in 2020 as a standalone single, later adding it to her 2021 “When Christmas Comes Around…” album.
Watch/listen to the songs below!