LADY Gaga has been accused of “crushing” a penniless singer-songwriter during a six-year court battle in which the star was accused of “stealing” a song.
While Gaga is celebrating winning an Oscar for the song Shallow, from A Star Is Born, struggling Rebecca Francescatti says that she is now a “pariah” in the music industry following the legal war.
Gaga plays struggling singer Ally in the Bradley Cooper-directed movie, but Rececca – a ‘real life ally’ – said she had little compassion for her when their paths crossed several years ago.
Rebecca filed a lawsuit against the star, real name Stefani Germanotta, over her hit single Judas, from the 2011 ‘Born This Way’ album, claiming it had the same backing track, same chords, and same recording engineer – Brian Gaynor – who Rebecca had worked with on her own song Juda several years earlier.
It was the start of six years of litigation warfare between pop megastar Gaga and the little-known singer – known as Rebecca F on the music scene in her home town of Chicago.
She lost the case initial suit after three years, when a judge said the two tracks didn’t sound similar enough to infringe Rebecca’s copyright and Gaga’s representatives have dismissed the claims as, ‘merritless’.
The 44-year-old told Sun Online she was left suicidal following the court battle – as Gaga’s ‘Little Monster’ fans abused and hounded her relentlessly.
Rebecca says Gaga’s legal team attempted to “crush me completely” in what she thinks was a bid to stop any other struggling artists fighting over copyright infringement against huge stars.
When Gaga, 31, appeared at the Illinois district court, she was dressed in her trademark outrageous clothes, and even claimed Rebecca was giving her “dirty looks”.
“Stefani did a four-hour deposition, it was a performance,” she said. “She’s an extroverted life, she’s wearing lampshades.”
“She was saying that she did every single bit on her album from the violin to singing, she had a list of things she did – you’d think no one else was needed. It was insane.
Gaga and Bradley Cooper got the world talking with this steamy duet at the Oscars[/caption]
“During a break, I went to the bathroom and she told everyone that I was giving her dirty looks, saying, ‘You’ve got to get her to stop it, pulling the victim’s act’.
“One of the assistants came to the bathroom and said that: ‘She claims that you’re giving her dirty looks.’
“So I said: ‘Stefani, I wasn’t giving you a dirty look, I think you’re adorable.’ She said: ‘You don’t hate me?’ in this childish sort of voice and I said ‘No, I don’t.’
“She said ‘Well, let’s go in the other room right now and sort this out…’ and then her lawyer said: ‘Stefani’ in a loud voice. It wasn’t in their [financial] interest to sort it out.
STRUGGLING TO MAKE ENDS MEET
“She’s got a team of tens of people. All the people in that room, had hundreds of thousands of dollars, properties, wives, and I’m sat there with nothing. I just had my songs and that’s why I was in the courtroom.”
It wasn’t the first court appearance for Gaga, who has also been accused of sampling Madonna’s Express Yourself on Born This Way, and has had countless legal run-ins with her former PA Jennifer O’Neill, ex-producer and boyfriend Rob Fusari, and the songwriter who found her, Wendy Starland.
I didn’t have money for weeks at a time
But while multi-millionaire Gaga could afford an expensive legal team to fight the court battle, back in 2011, Rebecca was living off credit cards and barely eating.
“I’ve had $16 in my account, and, trust me, that’s me being pretty rich,” she revealed.
“I didn’t have money for weeks at a time.
“I wasn’t going to see the doctor, like millions of poor people in America.
“I was very regimented with my eating, I was eating only raw food and meditating; it was my way of trying to control it. I already had depression issues, but I couldn’t afford the treatment unless I was suicidal, and I can’t say I didn’t think about it.
“To make ends meet I was doing bartending jobs that offering two bucks an hour, and while I was doing that, she was touring making hundreds of millions on the Born This Way tour – and playing what I believe is my song.”
To compound her misery, after three years, in May 2014, the judge dismissed the case in a summary judgement, saying the two tracks didn’t sound similar enough to infringe Rebecca’s copyright.
“Why would she chase me for money?
But Rebecca appealed arguing that the original ruling was invalid as it should have been heard by a jury made up of people with music experience, rather than being seen by a district judge with limited experience.
“I would have fought to the death though, I didn’t want to stop this,” she added.
Gaga then cruelly counter-sued the desperately broke Rebecca for $1.4 million (around £1.1 million) to pay for her defence costs.
“Why would she chase me for money? It was to make an example of me, ‘you little pathetic nothingness, we will crush you, don’t mess with corporate America,’” Rebecca said.
“She won so infinitely, crushed me so completely, my reputation music and songwriting side. I was a loser who was now getting this large sum levied against me because of my behaviour. I couldn’t find work, people wouldn’t speak to me.
“I p****d off one of the biggest divas in the world who’s really rich. I thought: ‘My life is screwed anyway, now it’s getting absurd, it’s surreal.’
“I feared suicide, songwriting is part of my soul. It was the $1.4 million that killed me, that was really difficult, it was intended to be humiliating.”
‘MY NAME WAS MALIGNED’
And Rebecca says one of the worst things to deal with was the bullying from Lady Gaga’s army of fans.
‘The trolling [from Gaga fans] was continuous, there was an uptick in the meanness,” she recalls.
“I was having to clean out videos of comments. But I had stopped caring, it was so overwhelming. There was an overflow of toxicity and abuse.
“My name was just maligned, everywhere there was anti-Rebecca F Facebook pages. It was everywhere on social media.
“On Twitter, the worst things you can say to me: c***, veg, death to my family, death to me, you’re talentless, you’re nothing, who is this b***h, go back to the kitchen.’
In June last year, Rebecca got the news that she was hoping for – the court ruled that she didn’t have to pay the $1.4 milion costs.
It was a hollow victory for Rebecca, who has virtually given up on the music industry following the legal battle.
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In response, Lady Gaga’s attorney Orin Snyder, said: “Ms. Francescatti was given a fair opportunity to try her claim in court and lost in 2014.
“In dismissing her case, a federal district judge ruled that Ms. Francescatti’s song and Lady Gaga’s song were ‘so utterly dissimilar that reasonable minds could not differ as to a lack of substantial similarity between them.’
“It is sad and unfortunate that Ms. Francescatti has now resurfaced to try her meritless claims in the press at time when Lady Gaga’s profile is high.”