Entertainment & Arts

Ex-Lady Gaga producer must pay songwriter $7.3m

Lady Gaga Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Lady Gaga was spotted by Wendy Starland in New York in 2006

A judge has upheld a jury ruling which states Lady Gaga's former producer Rob Fusari must pay $7.3m (£4.4m) to the songwriter who discovered the star.

In November last year, a jury found Fusari broke a 2005 agreement to compensate Wendy Starland if she brought him a "charismatic" performer.

Earlier this week, US District court Judge Jose Linares ruled against Fusari's argument to reduce the amount.

Lady Gaga had backed Starland's claim, stating Fusari "spoke of the deal".

When giving evidence in 2011, the singer said she understood Fusari and Starland had a verbal agreement to split their share of the profits.

"My understanding was that Wendy and him had initially agreed upon 50/50 perhaps before Wendy ever found me, and after I was signed to Rob and made music, Rob began to change his mind," said Lady Gaga.

"Rob told me [that] himself. Wendy told me herself. They both spoke of the deal … in front of me."

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Lady Gaga co-wrote Paparazzi with producer and former boyfriend Rob Fusari

Starland sued Fusari for her share of the profits in 2010.

In court, the songwriter testified Fusari had asked her to find an "edgy, bold, confident, charismatic" performer and "someone that you can't take your eyes off".

She eventually spotted Lady Gaga - then known as Stefani Germanotta - at New York City's Cutting Room, in 2006.

Starland told music magazine Billboard: "I had attended about 50 live performances and searched for countless hours online before finding an artist who fit the bill."

"I only brought Rob Fusari one artist for us to work with - and that artist became Lady Gaga."

'Validating'

The four-year court battle concluded in November last year when a jury in Newark, New Jersey, ruled Starland was entitled to 50% of everything Fusari has received, or will receive, from his collaborations with Lady Gaga.

Fusari was also ordered to pay Starland a one-off payment of $900,000 (£552,000).

"It's incredibly validating," Starland said at the time. "I'm now placing a focus on my [own] singing career and am excited to share my new music and sound with the world."

Grammy award-winning producer Fusari, who co-wrote Lady Gaga's hit Paparazzi, previously sued Lady Gaga for $35m (£23m) in 2010, alleging she denied him his share of song royalties and merchandising revenue. The singer counter-sued.

The pair subsequently dropped legal proceedings against each other and both actions were dismissed by the New York Supreme Court in August 2010.

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