As you know, this site is interested, however indirectly, in the intersection of folk/traditional musical culture with the legal system that had come into place by the time “Joe Primrose” claimed to have written “St. James Infirmary.” So Without additional comment, I pass along this item from The Awl:
In 1966, the Beach Boys enjoyed a top ten pop hit with “Sloop John B,” their version of a West Indies folk song that the poet Carl Sandberg included in his 1927 book, The American Songbag, and that producer Alan Lomax recorded the Cleveland Simmons Group singing in the Bahamas in 1935, and that the Kingston Trio had covered in 1958.
In 2010, representatives of the Beach Boys are threatening to sue Katy Perry for the inclusion of one line from one of their own songs, 1965’s “California Girls,” in her song, “California Gurls,” which has sold three million copies this summer. (The line is, “I wish they all could be California Girls,” which was not sung by Perry, but rapped in a guest verse by Snoop Dogg.) 1965 was 45 years ago.