Mariah Carey sued for £16 million over claims she stole All I Want For Christmas Is You

Mariah Carey sings into a microphone that she holds in one hand while wearing a red sparkly dress amid a festive Christmas set on tour

Mariah Carey is being sued for copyright infringement over her 1994 mega-hit “All I Want For Christmas Is You”.

Carey and her co-songwriter Walter Afanasieff have been accused of copying the hit song in a lawsuit filed by Angy Stone. Stone claimed that he co-wrote a song by the same name in 1989 and has never given permission for it to be used, according to legal documents filed at the US district court in the eastern district of Louisiana.

Carey and Afanasieff’s song was released in 1994 as part of her Merry Christmas album, and the song has broken multiple Guinness World Records in the years since. It has gone on to be one of the most recognisable festive songs and is an iconic part of Carey’s musical legacy. 

Stone’s lawsuit claims his song received “extensive airplay” during the 1993 holiday season. He alleged that Carey and Afanasieff “knowingly, willfully and intentionally engaged in a campaign to infringe” on Stone’s copyright “in the world ‘All I Want for Christmas is You’”. 

Stone claimed that Mariah Carey and Afanasieff “designed to exploit the popularity and unique style” of his work, and the lawsuit asserted that the pair committed “acts of unjust enrichment by the unauthorised appropriation” of Stone’s work.

Mariah Carey sings into a golden microphone while wearing a white shirt with rhinestones on it. She is accompanied on stage by a person dressed as Santa Claus in a red and white suit with a big brown belt and matching red and white hat

Mariah Carey released her song “All I Want For Christmas Is You” as part of her 1994 Merry Christmas album. (Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic for Mariah Carey)

The complaint said Stone’s lawyers contacted Mariah Carey and her co-defendant but were “unable to come to any agreement”. Now, Stone is seeking damages of $20 million dollars (£16 million) for the alleged copyright infringement.

Pamela Koslyn, a Los Angeles attorney who specialises in music and intellectual property rights, told Deadline there are 177 works that have “All I Want For Christmas Is You” as the title, with many being musical compositions. 

She noted that “song titles aren’t entitled to copyright protection”, and she would have to analyse if the lyrics of Stone’s song are “substantially similar” to Mariah Carey’s version. 

“That’s why there are 177 works using the same title,” Koslyn said. “An even more popular title is ‘My Baby’, which has 4860 works registered with the Copyright Office. And that doesn’t even count ‘common law’ (unregistered) works using the same title.”

Mariah Carey’s Merry Christmas quickly became one of the best-selling Christmas albums of all time after its debut in 1994, PA Media reported. It sold more than 15m copies worldwide, and Carey’s version of “All I Want For Christmas Is You” regularly tops the charts every year around the festive period.