Mariah Carey sued for ‘All I want for Christmas’
Mariah Carey, the de facto queen of Christmas, is being sued for alleged copyright infringement on “All I Want For Christmas Is You” by a country music songwriter. The songwriter in question is Andy Stone, who claims his 1989 song “All I Want For Christmas Is You” by Vince Vance & the Valiants was infringed by Carey’s song of the same name. Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You” was released in 1994.
As reported by Deadline, Stone filed his lawsuit Friday, June 3, in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana. He named Carey and his co-writer, Walter Afanasieff, in the lawsuit and is seeking $20 million in damages. However, Pamela Koslyn, a Los Angeles lawyer who specializes in intellectual property rights and music, told Deadline why Stone’s case probably won’t go very far.
First and foremost, there is very little overlap between the song lyrics and the melodies are different. The only thing the two songs have in common are their titles – and song titles cannot be copyrighted. “Song titles are not eligible for copyright protection,” Koslyn told Deadline. “That’s why there are 177 works using the same title.”
She went on to point out that Carey’s track “My Baby” is even more popular. The Copyright Office has more than 4,860 works with the same name. Ultimately, a song title alone cannot infringe copyright law. For Stone to have a case, his attorney would have to prove that Carey and Afanasieff’s song infringes on his intellectual property in a significant way.
It’s especially tricky considering how little the two holiday songs have in common other than a shared title. Stone’s version of “All I Want For Christmas Is You” is a slow song that features vocals from Lisa Layne. In the song, she sings, “If I wrote a letter to Santa / I’d only ask for one thing / I don’t need sleigh rides in the snow / I don’t want a blue Christmas / Take back the garlands, stockings and bows / ‘Cause all I want for Christmas is you.”
By contrast, Carey’s classic Christmas song is an upbeat pop anthem. “I don’t want much for Christmas / There’s only one thing I need / I don’t care about presents under the Christmas tree / I don’t need to hang my sock there on the fireplace / Santa won’t please me with a toy on Christmas day / I just want you for me / More than you could ever know / Make my wish come true / All I want for Christmas is that is you,” sings the Grammy winner.
Interestingly, even after Carey’s song was released, Stone’s country track continued to chart on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs graphic during the holiday season. The song was even cover by Kelly Clarkson in 2020, suggesting Stone and Carey’s similarly titled holiday anthems have co-existed for nearly two decades. Meanwhile, Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas” has topped the Billboard Top 100 chart every year since 2019.