Complaining Work

Defending Work

Vincent Montana, Richard Pettibone

"Chicago Bus Stop"

Hear sound recording



Madonna Ciccone, Richard Pettibone


Hear sound recording 



Plaintiff's complaint: Salsoul Complaint.pdf


Plaintiff’s complaint is confusing.  It identifies registrations of both the underlying musical work and the sound recording of the plaintiff’s song (“Chicago Bus”) but mentions only the registration of the underlying musical work of the defendant’s song (“Vogue”)  – that the complaint associates with Ciccone’s sound recording of it. 

Salsoul (plaintiff) appears to be claiming only that Ciccone misappropriated – through sampling – portions of the defendant’s sound recording in assembling “Vogue”.  Plaintiff asserts that it was “[o]nly when [plaintiff] specifically looked for the sample, with the technology available to it in 2011, that the sampling could be confirmed.”  In other words, ordinary listeners of the two songs would never hear any similarity – substantial or otherwise -- between “Vogue” and “Chicago Bus”. 

Defendant Richard Pettibone, the sound engineer (i.e. musical “brains”) for “Chicago Bus” was also the sound engineer (again, musical “brains”) and co-author of “Vogue”.  The allegedly misappropriated “horn and strings in Vogue” – i.e. the short riffs of electronic sounds suggestive of brass and bowed instruments – must have been at least partially the work of Richard Pettibone for “Chicago Bus”.  Accordingly, it appears that the plaintiff is suggesting that Pettibone misappropriated his own earlier expression in “Chicago Bus” when he later co-authored “Vogue”. 


The basis for the plaintiff’s claim is the alleged sampling of fragments of the “Chicago Bus” sound recording in the assembly of “Vogue”.  Unless the U.S. District Court in California were to subscribe to the 6th Circuit’s much-maligned decision creating a “bright line” rule on sampling (Bridgeport Music v. Dimension Films, 2005) , it appears this dispute hasn’t much of a future.