That which doesn’t kill a lawsuit can only make it stronger, right? That’s what Vincent Peters is hoping in his copyright infringement case against Kanye West, a previously dismissed claim which Peters is now appealing to a higher court.
Alleging suspicious similarities between Kanye West’s number one hit “Stronger” from 2007 and a 2006 song he submitted to West’s business manager, Peters points out that the tunes share titles, Kate Moss references and choruses that revolve around Nietzsche’s maxim, “What does not destroy me makes me stronger.”
Copyright suits against wealthy hit makers are nothing new, but rarely does the musician in question have the pleasure of citing the infamous 19th century philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche as part of their defense.
West’s lawyers argue that similarities between two songs which both reference the same culturally ubiquitous quotation can hardly be held as proof for theft.
If Peters prevails, West’s defense argues that, “It would create a dangerously low threshold for establishing copyright protection over otherwise commonplace words and phrases.” A judge earlier this year agreed with West, dismissing the suit, but Peters hopes the Court of Appeals will see things his way.
Of course, the “Stronger” chorus is legally lifted from Daft Punk’s “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger” anyway, and West’s 2007 Grammy-winning hit isn’t the only song to paraphrase that bit of wisdom from the philosophical tome “Twilight of the Idols.” Kelly Clarkson’s song of the exact same name also features the lyric, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” plus Metallica and Jay-Z have separately tread that territory before.
Further irony: Nietzsche didn’t even come up with this quote he’s so famous for. Earlier German philosopher Goethe first introduced the idea to Western culture before Friedrich was even born, although it wasn’t popularized until his controversial successor paraphrased it.
But the end of the day, Nietzsche would probably just be happy he was the inspiration for a dance floor hit. After all, this is a philosopher who’s Zarathustra character insisted, “I would believe only in a God who could dance.”