Taken from billboard.com | Author: Bill Donahue | Date: 6 June 2023
A judge ruled that a reggae band's allegations against Lipa are seriously flawed, but gave them one more shot to refile their case.
A federal judge has serious doubts about a copyright lawsuit claiming Dua Lipa stole her smash hit song “Levitating” from a little-known reggae track, saying she’s seen no evidence that Lipa ever even heard the song she’s accused of copying.
The band Artikal Sound System sued the star last year, claiming her 2020 song – which spent 77 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 chart – borrowed its core hook from their 2017 tune “Live Your Life.”
But in a ruling on Monday, U.S. District Judge Sunshine S. Sykes said there was no sign that anyone involved in creating “Levitating” had had “access” to the earlier song – a key requirement in any copyright lawsuit.
Artikal Sound System offered a complex theory: that one of Lipa’s co-writers had previously worked with a woman who was allegedly taught guitar by the brother-in-law of one band member. But in her ruling, Judge Sykes was clearly unimpressed.
“These attenuated links, which bear little connection to either of the two musical compositions at issue here, also do not suggest a reasonable likelihood that defendants actually encountered plaintiffs’ song,” the judge wrote.
The band also claimed that the song was so widely-available that the “Levitating” writers must have heard it, citing the fact that it had been played at concerts, that they had sold “several hundred” physical CDs, and that it was available on some streaming platforms.
But Judge Sykes said those arguments were “too generic or too insubstantial” to sustain a lawsuit.
“Plaintiffs’ failure to specify how frequently they performed “Live Your Life” publicly during the specified period, where these performances took place, and the size of the venues and/or audiences precludes the Court from finding that Plaintiffs’ live performances of the song plausibly contributed to its saturation of markets in which Defendants would have encountered it,” the judge wrote.
In technical terms, Monday’s ruling dismissed the lawsuit against Lipa. But the case isn’t over: the judge ruled that Artikal Sound System could try to fix the mistakes she had identified and refiled a so-called amended complaint.
Attorneys for both sides did not return requests for comment on Tuesday.
“Levitating,” released on 2020 on Lipa’s second studio album Future Nostalgia, was a massive hit, eventually peaking at No. 2 on the Hot 100 and securing the honour of being the longest-running top 10 song ever by a female artist on the chart.
Artikal Sound System is a reggae band based out of South Florida, founded in 2012 as a duo before later adding additional musicians and vocalist Logan Rex. The band released “Live Your Life” on its 2017 EP Smoke and Mirrors.
In their March lawsuit, the band said the songs sounded so similar that it was “highly unlikely that ‘Levitating’ was created independently.” The lawsuit also named Warner Records, as well as others who helped create the hit track.
But in November, Lipa’s lawyers made counter-arguments that were largely adopted in Monday’s ruling, claiming that the band’s efforts to show that Lipa or the other writers ever heard “Live Your Life” were “tortured” and “nothing more than a speculative.”
“Plaintiffs are essentially seeking to plead access,” the star’s legal team wrote, “by alleging that someone who knows someone who knows someone might have met one of the ‘Levitating’ writers.”
Following Monday’s decision, Artikal Sound System has until June 16 to refile their case.