Britney Spears Sued Over 'Sometimes'

05/13/2005 at 08:25 AM EDT

Britney Spears Sued Over 'Sometimes'
Britney Spears and Steve Wallace
X17; Splash News
An Indiana songwriter is suing Britney Spears and her label for copyright infringement, claiming he wrote the song "Sometimes" in 1990 – though he also acknowledges he did not copyright it until 2003.

She, on the other hand, allegedly acknowledges in an undated e-mail that plaintiff Steve Wallace submitted as part of his May 5 legal filing: "I now know for a fact that you wrote sometimes. But there's nothing I can do about it. That's all I can say about it," the Associated Press reports.

Spears, 23, obtained a U.S. copyright for "Sometimes" on Jan. 22, 1999. The song appeared on her 1999 debut album, ... Baby One More Time and on last year's Greatest Hits: My Prerogative.

Wallace's complaint states that a few weeks after first composing the work he executed what's commonly known as a "poor man's" copyright – placing the song in a sealed envelope and mailing it to himself (to obtain a post office mark). He then shopped it around to music publishers in 1994.

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The lyrics of the song sung by Spears are nearly identical to those written by Wallace, according to a side-by-side comparison submitted as evidence, AP reports.

Wallace, 34, who writes pop, country and gospel songs, suffers from dystonia, a neurological disorder that occasionally results in tremors and prevents him from talking, said his attorney, John Ritchison.

Ritchison said he tried to settle the dispute out of court, seeking recognition and licensing or payments for Wallace, who has not specified the damages he is seeking, beyond $150,000 for each instance in which his copyright was allegedly infringed.

Spears's attorneys replied with a one-page document denying Wallace's claim, he said. Reps for Spears referred calls about the matter to her label, Sony/BMG, whose executive, Wade Leak, said he would have no comment on the lawsuit.

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