On purpose or otherwise, you’ve listened to Dua Lipa’s songs. Especially if you’re a fan of ‘dance music’, it seems impossible to be unfamiliar with the Albanian blooded singer-songwriter from London, United Kingdom.
Dua Lipa has been a very productive singer since the start of her career, releasing good, well-favored songs after another. It almost feels like every time she puts out a new song, it gets played on radios everywhere and featured on a number of music charts, which ultimately advertised the song to people who haven’t heard it yet.
An example of a well-received Dua Lipa song is ‘Levitating’. The song, which was released in 2020 to be a part of the ‘Future Nostalgia’ album, was one of the most popular songs at the time of its release. So popular in fact, that it entered Billboard’s Hot 100 and reached number 2 on the list.
Although it never reached number one, ‘Levitating’ was dubbed “The No. 1 Hot 100 Song Of The Year” in 2021 by Billboard. The reason, most likely, was because it remained popular throughout the years 2020 and 2021, it also broke the record for the longest running song on the Top 10 of Hot 100 by a female artist.
With a quality that is recognized and supported by achievements over the years, it never occurred to anyone that ‘Levitating’ could be in trouble for Copyright Infringement. In March 2022, in less than a week, Dua Lipa alongside her label received two lawsuits sent by two different sets of plaintiffs.
What Are These Lawsuits About?
Levitating, written by Dua Lipa, Clarence Coffee Jr., Sarah Hudson, Stephen Kozmeniuk, and DaBaby, has been accused of copyright infringement. Who’s accusing? There are two parties. The first to sue was a reggae band from Florida, Artikal Sound System.
The band accused Dua Lipa of plagiarizing their song ‘Live Your Life’, which was released in 2017, three years before ‘Levitating’ was released. It was revealed, through their lawsuit, that the similarities were significant enough to make it highly unlikely that ‘Levitating’ was written without hearing their song. The lawsuit was filed to the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California on March 1, 2022.
Until now, there is no public information regarding the evidence used by Artikal Sound System to substantiate their lawsuit. The song ‘Live Your Life’ can be listened to on Youtube and Soundcloud for those who are interested in hearing or wanting to compare it to ‘Levitating’.
The second to sue Dua Lipa for copyright infringement is songwriters L. Russell Brown and Sandy Linzer. The lawsuit was filed on March 4, 2022, not long after the first lawsuit. The duo claim that the melody or pitch of ‘Levitating’ mimics their songs which are Cory Daye’s ‘Wiggle and a Giggle All Night’, recorded in 1979 and ‘Don Diablo’ sung by Miguel Bosé, recorded in 1980. The lawsuit was registered in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
These two lawsuits are quite surprising, considering Levitating has been popular since 2020-2021 and is just now receiving them. It was reported that Brown and Linzer only found out about the resemblance between their songs and ‘Levitating’ after watching a video from TikTok. As of the time this article was written, the two lawsuits that were filed in different courts had not progressed.
Many are skeptical about how these lawsuits will end. It is not uncommon for singers or lyricists to lose Copyright lawsuits against artists who, in terms of popularity, have surpassed them. However, that doesn’t in any way mean it is improbable for the plaintiffs in this case to win.
As reported by NBC News, musicologist Judith Finell explains that the process of determining a copyright infringement is more than just finding two works that “sound” similar in style or vibe. Richard Busch, an Intellectual Property attorney, doubts the possibility of Artikal Sound System succeeding in their lawsuit, given that their song is relatively unknown, and isn’t found on streaming platforms accessible to the general public. This is relevant because if the song is hard to find, then how did Dua Lipa or her label find the song?
According to the United States Copyright Act, in order for a song to be declared to have infringed copyright, the accuser or plaintiff must be able to prove 2 (two) things, namely:
The Court has to perform thorough examinations in regards to whether point number 2 is fulfilled in a case or not. This is because, although the Court does want to protect Copyright, it should also aim to support and protect creativity.
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