Songwriter Jon Hume Sues Universal Music Group for Copyright Infringement Over ‘Be Alright’ Stems

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jon hume
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Jon Hume, who’s suing Universal Music for copyright infringement over the alleged unauthorized use of his stems in ‘Be Alright.’ Photo Credit: Diliff

Universal Music Group (UMG) is facing a copyright infringement action for allegedly using a number of stems in “Be Alright” without crediting or compensating the appropriate musician for the work.

Australia-born, Nashville-based Jon Hume just recently submitted the straightforward complaint to a Tennessee federal court, naming as defendants UMG proper as well as Universal Music Australia. The plaintiff possesses a songwriter credit on Dean Lewis’ mentioned “Be Alright,” which has racked up 1.76 billion Spotify streams since its 2018 release.

But the way Hume tells the story, his contributions extend well beyond co-authoring the commercially successful track, which he and Lewis are said to have created in 2015. When it comes to the work’s demo (not the final master that ultimately became available to fans), the plaintiff claims to have “recorded every instrument” featured therein.

Shifting the focus to July of 2016, now-former Universal Music Australia MD Michael Taylor, who would go on to exit the role in September of 2022, allegedly asked the filing party to send the involved stems “to another producer” for cash-saving “‘reference'” as opposed to incorporation into the master. (The complaint includes as exhibits copies of this email and other relevant messages.)

Unsurprisingly, that ask set the stage for an August of 2016 request from Taylor to use the stems in “Be Alright.” Hume and his wife, doubling as his manager, discussed with UMG Australia “giving Hume a producer credit” and then sent the stems along to Taylor, according to the action.

Needless to say, in light of the complaint, the producer credit didn’t come to fruition. UMG “‘did not end up using any of Jon’s files in the final Master,’” the then-UMG Australia MD allegedly emailed Hume in May of 2018, the month before “Be Alright” dropped.

Fast forward to December of 2023, when Dean Lewis is said to have sent the plaintiff “the entire collection of stems” for the actual “Be Alright” master “as a reference for another song for which” he was seeking Hume’s assistance.

Upon receiving these stems, Hume promptly “discovered that, contrary to UMG’s representations, more than fifty percent” were featured both in his initial recording of “Be Alright” and the master. From there, the musician identified the exact stems that were allegedly used without authorization.

All told, Hume is pushing for a variety of damages as well as his share of the track’s profits and a court determination of intentional infringement or a declaration that he’s “an author and owner” of the released master.

On the profits front, “the accounts presented are of such complexity that adequate relief cannot be obtained at law,” the legal text maintains, and an investigation of said accounts would be “necessary in order to effect justice.”