Dua Lipa Sued for Alleged Copyright Infringement

Dua LIpa singing on stage

Musical artist Dua Lipa has been sued twice in one week for alleged copyright infringement related to her 2020 single Levitating.

The song was a hit, reaching number two on Billboards’ Hot 100. It was also reportedly the longest-running top-10 song by a female artist.

As Global News reports,

The first complaint was filed last week by the Florida reggae band Artikal Sound System and it claims Dua Lipa plagiarized their 2017 song Live Your Life.

A second complaint was filed on Friday by songwriters L. Russell Brown and Sandy Linzer. They allege Levitating copied Wiggle and Giggle All Night, a disco song from 1979, as well as the 1980 track Don Diablo — a song for which the pair hold the copyright because it had infringed on Wiggle and Giggle All Night….|

Artikal Sound System’s claim relates to the chorus of Levitating, while Brown and Linzer allege that Dua Lipa copied their music in the verse of her hit song.

As Slate notes, the case

is shaping up to be the most polarizing music copyright case since the court ruling on “Blurred Lines” in 2015 (upheld on appeal in 2018) that cost Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams $5 million for plagiarizing Marvin Gaye’s “Got to Give It Up.”

As the New York Times reported,

Four years after the copyright trial over that No. 1 song — in which Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams, its primary writers, were ordered to pay more than $5 million for copying Marvin Gaye’s disco-era hit “Got to Give It Up” — the case still looms over the music industry and individual songwriters, who were left to wonder when homage bleeds into plagiarism…

The songwriter Evan Bogart, who has written for Beyoncé, Rihanna and Madonna, described second-guessing himself in the studio, worried that a melody or lyric might cross a line he can no longer locate.

“I shouldn’t be thinking about legal precedent when I am trying to write a chorus,” Mr. Bogart said.

Most cases of alleged music copyright infringement never go to trial. They’re either settled or dismissed quickly. Traces of such settlements may show up in the credits for songs.

When these cases do go to trial, they’re resolved “by ear” and often involve forensic musicologists.

With respect to “Live Your Life” in an interview about the case with Rolling Stone, Berklee College of Music professor and forensic musicologist Joe Bennett said that only three or so measures in the songs at issue show notable similarity and that many other songs use the same chord progression, including No Doubt’s “Don’t Speak” and Helloween’s “Forever and One.”

He said that both songs likely draw inspiration from earlier works like OutKast’s 1998 “Rosa Parks.”

As the Slate article concludes,

When push comes to shove, do I think that Dua Lipa and her team are guilty of copyright infringement? Not at all. But do I think that a jury could be convinced that passages of “Levitating” were plagiarized? Absolutely. If an expert witness focused on the notated courtroom exhibits and only played short segments of each song, a jury could easily be swayed. And besides, everyone loves a David and Goliath story: Given the success that “Levitating” has found, it’s easy to get swept up in the (likely false) narrative of a struggling artist toiling away in obscurity, only for famous pop star to make a smash hit by stealing their work.

Categories: Copyright