Three Chords, and a Rhythmic Resemblance.
Florida Band Artikal Sound System Alleges Singer Dua Lipa Infringed on Their Hit Song "Live Your Life"
This week a notable copyright lawsuit was filed in the US District Court for the Central District of California by five plaintiffs who comprise the band Artikal Sound System. The complaint is docketed at 2:22-cv-01384. The plaintiffs brought the lawsuit against British singer Dua Lipa, who unless you have been living on Mars for the last few years, is massively popular.
The subject of the lawsuit? Lipa’s hit song Levitating, which peaked at number two on the Billboard Global 200 Chart in May 2021.
Remember, all allegations in a complaint are just that - mere allegations, until a fact finder makes a determination at trial.
The Plaintiffs allege that Levitating infringes on their song Live Your Life which was written in 2017. Live Your Life appeared on the Billboard Reggae charts. The complaint is short and to the point, a mere four and a half pages long in total.
Reading about copyright matters is one thing, but hearing both songs is critical to assessing the validity of the allegations.
There is an excellent video on YouTube from musician and producer Rick Beato exploring the components of each song.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with Rick Beato and his YouTube channel, Mr. Beato studied guitar performance at Ithaca College, taught at that school, and became a record producer. Beato is probably one of the best explainers of music theory and production I have ever encountered. His video compares the chord progression under the chorus of both songs (Bm7 - F#m7 - Em7) plus highlights some rhythmic similarities. Rhythms and drumbeats however are not copyrightable.
It is quite illustrative however when Beato superimposes the track Live Your Life on top of Levitating, playing both songs simultaneously. Listen and decide for yourself.
Of course, similarity is not infringement. Influence is not infringement. What will a jury do with these two songs? Can the plaintiffs prove that the defendants were aware of Live Your Live while composing and recording Levitating? Can an expert witness connect the two songs sufficiently for the purposes of establishing whether or not infringement occurred?
It is more likely than not that this matter will settle, but anything is possible. This matter will be one to watch develop.