Vaughn v. Kelly, No. 06 C 6427, 2007 WL 804694 (N.D. Ill. Mar. 13, 2007) (Manning, J.).
Judge Manning denied plaintiff Vaughn’s motion to remand his case to state court, but gave plaintiff leave to file an amended complaint. Vaughn sued defendant R. Kelly ("Kelly") in Illinois state court alleging breach of contract, fraud and unjust enrichment, among other things. Vaughn alleged that he introduced Kelly to stepping, taught him how to step, helped him write a stepping-based song entitled "Step in the Name of Love," and collaborated with Kelly to develop a video for the song. Kelly had the case removed to the Northern District based upon an argument that the claims sound in copyright law. In his motion to remand, Vaughn argued that his case was not about copyright, but about Kelly’s alleged theft of his uncopyrightable ideas and the breach of the contract governing the exchange of those ideas. The Court noted that Vaughn’s fraud and breach of oral contract claims were close questions, but held that Vaughn’s unjust enrichment claim sounded in copyright. The unjust enrichment was based upon fixed works — Kelly’s song and video — and the unjust enrichment claim is equivalent to allegations of Kelly’s infringement of Vaughn and Kelly’s alleged joint work. The Court acknowledged that Vaughn was likely to amend his complaint to force remand and gave Vaughn a deadline for filing any such amended complaint.