Rolling Stones ‘Living in a Ghost Town’ Copyright Infringement Lawsuit Dismissed — For Now

Rolling Stones lawsuit ghost town copyright infringement
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Rolling Stones lawsuit ghost town copyright infringement
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Photo Credit: Raph PH / CC by 2.0

A federal judge has dismissed a copyright infringement lawsuit filed against the Rolling Stones over their 2020 single ‘Living in a Ghost Town,’ ruling that the plaintiffs would need to file the case in a court within the appropriate jurisdiction.

A copyright infringement lawsuit filed against the Rolling Stones’ Mick Jagger and Keith Richards has been dismissed by a federal judge, who ruled that the plaintiff filed the case in the wrong court.

Songwriter Sergio Garcia Fernandez filed the lawsuit in March, alleging that Jagger and Richards “misappropriated many of the recognizable and key protected elements” from his early-aughts songs under the stage name Angelslang, “So Sorry,” and “Seed of God,” in the Stones’ 2020 single, “Living in a Ghost Town.”

On Wednesday (October 18), federal judge Eldon E. Fallon ruled his Louisiana court lacked jurisdiction over the case — as Jagger and Richards are British, while Fernandez lives in Spain. Judge Fallon tossed the case “without prejudice,” so Fernandez and his legal team are free to file the lawsuit in another jurisdiction; attorneys for the Rolling Stones suggested that somewhere in Europe might be a more appropriate location.

“The mere fact that people in this district listen to the Rolling Stones or the alleged work does not permit this court to wield specific jurisdiction over the defendants,” wrote Judge Fallon.

A lawyer for Fernandez said he’s disappointed and surprised by the court’s ruling, but he vowed to file the suit in another venue “in addition to reviewing other legal options.”

Fernandez’s lawsuit alleged that the Stones’ 2020 track borrows key aspects from two of his earlier songs, including vocal melodies and chord progressions, without authorization. Although Fernandez’s songs have less than 1,000 streams on Spotify, the songwriter claims he gave a demo CD containing the songs to one of Jagger’s “immediate family members.”

“Living in a Ghost Town” was the first original material from the Stones since 2012, released at the peak of the pandemic-related shutdowns in April 2020. The song reached No. 3 on the Billboard Hot Rock & Alternative Songs chart in May 2020.