Indeed, Beyoncé's team's paperwork — included in the copyright-infringement suit filed in New York's Manhattan Federal Court last week — depicts a rush to get permission to use the song, with letters sent back and forth up to and including the day of the deluxe edition's release. According to the suit, Beyoncé's team originally sought clearance on February 13 to use "interpolations" of the Des'ree song, which became a hit when it appeared in the Leonardo DiCaprio/ Claire Danes movie "Romeo + Juliet" in 1996. Lawyers for the two sides (Beyoncé and Des'ree's publishers the Royalty Network) started talking, and by March 3 — a month before Beyoncé re-released her album — Beyoncé's side had a "confirmation letter and license request" ready to submit.As of now the two sides have agreed that Columbia/Sony would "engage in no further distribution" of the album, at least until the next court date on May 4.
On March 5, the Royalty Network's lawyers answered by submitting a counter proposal in which they granted permission — within certain limits. For one thing, they would allow use of the song, but not in video form. They would also allow use of the song only if the title were not changed. The Royalty Network's lawyers at Epstein Levinsohn Bodine & Weinstein said in the complaint that "despite follow-ups," they didn't hear back from Beyoncé's camp. And on March 27, according to the complaint, they discovered that Beyoncé and her record label planned to proceed with their plans to include the song on the re-release anyway. In a letter they wrote to Beyoncé's lawyer and her distribution group Sony, the Royalty Network called the move "completely unacceptable."
"First, no agreement has been reached in connection with [the song]," the letter read, "and Sony has no right to proceed ... absent an agreement. Second, the retitling of the composition puts TRN at risk for claims from more than one third party, and this is a risk that [Beyoncé] and Sony were or should have been aware of in light of the circumstances surrounding the discussions relating to this potential license."