In their opening statements, Dua Lipa’s attorneys argued that the singer had no previous knowledge of the two songs that were the subject of the lawsuit and asked for the case to be dismissed.
L. Russell Brown and Sandy Linzer, who collaborated on the songs “Wiggle And A Giggle All Night” and “Don Diablo,” claimed in March that Lipa “copied” the “signature” opening melody for her 2020 single “Levitating” from those two songs.
According to the plaintiff’s complaint, Lipa previously admitted to “deliberately imitating earlier eras” to produce a “vintage” sound. The attorneys for the two stated: “Defendants duplicated Plaintiffs’ creation without attributing it in their search for nostalgic inspiration.”
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What Artikal Sound System did Dua Lipa copy?
A somewhat unheard-of reggae group named Artikal Sound System sued Dua Lipa on March 1st, 2022, claiming that the pop sensation had stolen “Levitating” from their song “Live Your Life.”
Similarity in sound
Harrington emphasizes that music of a given style will typically be built upon the same melodic concepts and patterns that define the genre, saying that “sounding alike is nearly always unimportant.”
There are just 12 notes in Western music, as Harrington emphasizes. There are seven notes in the PR scale, so the vast majority of popular music restricts itself to just a few. The same notes are being targeted in the music industry. She accepted that she deliberately emulated prior eras of basic musical building blocks.
According to Harrington, having a dialogue inside the boundaries of the English language can occasionally lead to this term leading to that word. The same is true with musical notes. Jurors must comprehend that similar messages can be separately created without plagiarism. As a result, this case is shaping up to be the most divisive regarding music copyright by pop star Dua Lipa since the 2015 verdict on “Blurred Lines” that fined Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams $5 million for stealing Marvin Gaye’s “Got to Give It Up” was upheld on appeal in 2018.
Music theorist Adam Neely breaks down “Levitating” and “Live Your Life” in a YouTube video. Both songs are in the same chord progression of copyright law and have a tempo of about 100 beats per minute. The harmonic progression Bm7-F#m7-Em7 is included in both choruses, but “Levitating” resolves on Bm7 (often known as the “one”), while “Live Your Life” lingers on Em7. Neely asserts that each chorus’s relative notes to the key follow a similar pattern. The lyrics are equally important to mention. “Life Your Lifechorus “begins, “All day, all night / Party to the t
A lawyer for Dua Lipa denounces the “Levitating” copyright lawsuit:
Dua Lipa and her attorneys had launched the first salvo in their “Levitating” legal battle, arguing before a federal judge in New York that the superstar singer did not know the two disco tracks that were the subject of a copyright infringement lawsuit that was filed in March and that the case should be dismissed.
Rolling Stone got Lipa’s letter to U.S. District Judge Katherine Polk Failla, which provides her defense before a move to dismiss the case is expected. The issue concerns Lipa’s 2020 mega single, which spent a record-breaking 77 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100. However, the alleged similarities—a descending scale with each pitch repeated on evenly spaced notes, and a common clave rhythm—are unprotectable and the result of the coincidental use of fundamental musical building blocks, Dua Lipa lawyer Christine Lepera wrote in a letter to the court earlier this week.
Songwriters L. Russell Brown and Sandy Linzer say “Levitating” plagiarized their 1979 song “Wiggle and Giggle All Night.” The next song titled “Don Diablo,” which they now own as a result of “Wiggle and Giggle All Night,” is found to have been infringed upon.
In their lawsuit, the plaintiffs claim that “Levitating” and its remix, “Levitating (Da Baby),” are “substantially similar” to their decades-old compositions and have plagiarized their “signature melody” and “compositional components.”
“Levitating” and “Wiggle and Giggle All Night”
If we were to compare the opening passages of “Levitating” with “Wiggle and Giggle All Night,” we would notice that the vocal delivery speed and word timing are remarkably similar. The basic structure of these verses is likewise similar; each begins with a matched set of opening lines, is followed by a contrasting third line, and concludes with a stronger fourth line. Identical to the first lawsuit, a superficial, comparative analysis seems to point to Lipa’s camp’s involvement in illegal activity. There are eight measurements with similar features (instead of a mere three in the first case). However, if we look a little closer, it is evident that this type of verse arrangement is extremely typical.
Lepera goes on to say that given the “many millions of musical recordings” available online, the songs’ “mere availability” on streaming platforms is also insufficient. She further claims that the complaint fails to establish that “Don Diablo” was registered with the U.S. Copyright Office before filing the case and fails to detail how the music would qualify for a registration exception. According to her, registering for a copyright is a must before bringing a copyright infringement lawsuit. She writes, “A complaint that fails to do so must be dismissed.”
Regarding Lepera’s request for a conference before submitting the dismissal motion, Judge Polk Failla has not yet decided.
A plaintiff must establish to succeed in an infringement lawsuit that the defendant had access to their work, demonstrating that the defendant might have reasonably had the opportunity to view or duplicate it. Three theories of access are available to plaintiffs: the chain of events theory (demonstrating how the protected work was transferred to the defendant); the combination of wide dissemination and unintentional copying (showing how the secure work was widely disseminated via radio, television, or the internet); or the theory of striking similarity (proving that the two pieces are so similar that there is no other explanation but copying).
The reggae band Artikal Sound System alleges in its lawsuit that the songs are so similar that it is “very doubtful that ‘Levitating’ was formed separately,” hence it is likely that they are attempting to show striking similarities.
The other lawsuit quotes interviews in which Lipa “confessed that she purposefully copied earlier eras” and “took inspiration” to produce a “retro” sound. Brown and Linzer’s lawyers use these interviews. However, emulating eras and drawing inspiration to create a retro sound is distant from copyright violations.
The fact that all of the works under consideration use earlier art presents Artikal Sound System, Brown, and Linzer with perhaps their largest challenge.
The copyright legislation is 140,000 words long. Originality is most crucial. It states that “original works of authorship are subject to copyright protection,” according to Harrington. Some decisions say work is not sufficiently original to merit protection.
To put it another way, even though the plaintiffs assert that Lipa violated their copyrighted expression, the identical concepts they claim as original can be found in multiple instances of previous compositions, making their argument for originality rather shaky.
Art cannot, in the end, be produced in a vacuum. The fact that some “inspiration” is plagiarized more than others does not change the fact that art inspires art. And at the end of the day, who gets to use what, when, and how is the age-old question.
Like most things, the more money at stake always seems to make this question more pressing and important. “Levitating” has a huge TikTok following and the distinction of becoming the top song on Billboard’s Global 200 chart for the year-end of 2021. But if Dua Lipa is held accountable for failing to give credit to the “Live Your Life” writers, then both she and Artikal Sound System must properly credit their shared forebear.