Dua Lipa, the popular British pop star, has recently found herself in the midst of legal battles as she faces multiple lawsuits over her hit song “Levitating.” The lawsuits involve copyright infringement claims being brought forth by various artists who accuse the singer of using elements from their music without permission.
In one of the cases, musician Bosko Kante has filed a multi-million dollar federal lawsuit in Los Angeles against Dua Lipa and Warner Music Group, arguing that the star never obtained his permission to include elements from his work in “Levitating.” This legal battle marks the third copyright claim filed against Dua Lipa over this particular song.
Details of the Lawsuit
The lawsuit involves multiple plaintiffs. The first set of plaintiffs are the members of a Florida reggae group, Artikal Sound System. The second set of plaintiffs are songwriters L. Russell Brown and Sandy Linzer, who claim that Dua Lipa’s hit song “Levitating” borrows from their 1979 disco song “Wiggle and Giggle All Night.”
The plaintiffs allege that Dua Lipa’s “Levitating” contains elements that are strikingly similar to their respective songs. Artikal Sound System argues that the melody, rhythm, and overall structure of their song have been copied. Meanwhile, Brown and Linzer claim that “Levitating” rips off their song “Wiggle and Giggle All Night” in terms of composition and overall vibe. Both parties are seeking damages and all profits attributable to the alleged copyright infringement.
Dua Lipa’s Defense
Dua Lipa and her label, Warner Records, have successfully convinced a Los Angeles federal court to dismiss the lawsuit filed by Artikal Sound System. It remains to be seen how they will respond to the claims brought forward by Brown and Linzer.
The defense argues that there is no substantial similarity between the works and that any similarities are coincidental or a result of common musical elements. They maintain that “Levitating” is an original work, independently created without any reference to the plaintiffs’ songs.
The Song in Controversy
Popularity and Recognition
“Levitating” is a hit song from Dua Lipa’s 2020 album Future Nostalgia. The song gained immense popularity since its release, spending 77 weeks on Billboard’s Hot 100 U.S. singles chart, peaking at No. 2 in 2021.
The track showcases a blend of disco, pop, and dance elements, creating an appealing and energetic sound for listeners. Dua Lipa’s distinctive vocals, combined with catchy hooks, contribute to the track’s widespread success.
Songwriters and Producers
“Levitating” was created by a team of talented songwriters and producers, including Dua Lipa herself, Sarah Hudson, Stephen “Koz” Kozmeniuk, and Clarence Coffee Jr. Stephen Kozmeniuk is an esteemed producer known for working with various high-profile artists. Additionally, a remix of the song was released featuring renowned DJ Don Diablo, adding to the song’s recognition.
Melody and Rhythm
The lawsuit against Dua Lipa claims that her hit song “Levitating” contains striking similarities in melody and rhythm to the 1979 song “Wiggle and Giggle All Night.” The plaintiffs, Sandy Linzer and L. Russell Brown, have argued that the signature melody of “Levitating” was borrowed from their track, which has led to accusations of copyright infringement against Dua Lipa and Warner Music Group.
Lyrics and Chords
In addition to melody and rhythm, the lawsuit claims that the chords and lyrics of “Levitating” share similarities with those of the 1979 track. While these elements may be more subtle and harder to prove than the aforementioned melodic and rhythmic comparisions, similarities in lyrics and chords can still play a significant role in copyright infringement cases.
Previous Copyright Cases in Music
One notable copyright case in music history involved the song “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams. In this case, the family of Marvin Gaye accused Thicke and Williams of copying elements from Gaye’s 1977 hit, “Got to Give It Up.” The trial took place in 2015, and the jury ultimately determined that “Blurred Lines” did infringe on Gaye’s work. Thicke and Williams were ordered to pay $7.3 million to Gaye’s family, which was later reduced to a $5.3 million settlement along with ongoing royalties.
This case sparked significant debate regarding the implications for creativity in the music industry. Critics argued that the judgment could potentially stifle creativity, as it seemed to set a precedent allowing copyright infringement claims based on similar “feel” rather than specific melodic or lyrical similarities.
Another well-known copyright case involved the song “Rosa Parks” by the hip-hop group OutKast. In this instance, the civil rights activist Rosa Parks sued the group in 1999, claiming that their use of her name in the song’s title and lyrics was unauthorized and constituted false advertising. Parks also alleged that the song defamed her and diluted her public persona.
The case ultimately reached a settlement in 2005, with OutKast and their record label agreeing to work with Parks and her foundation on a series of education and tribute projects. The lawsuit raised questions about the limits of artistic expression and the rights of public figures in relation to their names and images.
Copyright Laws in Music Industry
Understanding Copyright Laws
In the music industry, copyright laws are crucial for protecting the intellectual property of artists, composers, and songwriters. Copyright law grants the original creators exclusive rights to their work, such as the right to reproduce, distribute, and perform the work. It prevents others from using the copyrighted material without proper authorization or compensation.
These laws are designed to encourage creativity by giving creators control over their output and ensuring that they receive the benefits of their work. Intellectual property law is an essential aspect of the music industry, as it helps protect the unique artistic expressions of individual artists. However, navigating copyright laws can be complex, and disputes sometimes arise over the ownership or licensing of copyrighted work.
Interpretation by Courts
In cases of alleged copyright infringement, the legal process involves courts interpreting and applying the relevant copyright laws to determine whether a violation has occurred. In music copyright lawsuits, the burden of proof lies with the plaintiffs, who must demonstrate that the defendant copied their work and that protected elements in the original work are substantially similar to the allegedly infringing work.
Juries often determine whether two works are substantially similar by applying the “extrinsic-intrinsic test,” which consists of two parts. The extrinsic test considers objective elements, such as melody, harmony, and rhythm, whereas the intrinsic test focuses on subjective elements, such as the overall feel and mood of the works involved.
Impact to Dua Lipa
While collaborating with Warner Records helped her produce successful tracks, this legal battle might impose a strain on her relationship with the recording company. However, it remains to be seen how the lawsuit will affect her ability to release future singles and albums.
Although the lawsuit may be an obstacle for the artist, it is essential to note that Dua Lipa continues to have a sizable following on YouTube and various streaming services such as Spotify. With millions of listeners worldwide, the impact of this case on her overall success may be limited.