A lawsuit filed against Universal Music Group and the co-writers of ‘Despacito’ alleging copyright infringement within the hit song has been dismissed by a US District court.
The complaint, which was originally filed on July 8, 2019 by Newton Cortes, alleged that the lyrics to ‘Despacito’ infringed the lyrics to Cortes’ song ‘Despasito’, registered in 2006. He claimed that the shared title, plus similar use of some words and short phrases and a similar word count, among other factors, indicated infringement.
Cortes sought 20% of the royalties generated from the song, plus $50,000 “as compensation for the unauthorised use” of his work, and statutory damages of $150,000.
Shortly after Cortes’ suit, the song’s co-writers, Daddy Yankee, Luis Fonsi, and Erika Ender, along with Universal, all filed motions to dismiss the suit, which has now been agreed.
“All pending motions are DENIED AS MOOT (sic). The Clerk is instructed to CLOSE this case,” Judge Kathleen Williams wrote in a decision dated August 6 (as reported by Billboard).
After comparing the two songs, it was deemed that “the works are only similar as to unprotectable elements and share no commonality at the level of protectable expression.”
In fact, the most notable similarity was the song’s title, which was considered “too short and generic to meet the required threshold for creativity to qualify for copyright protection.”
The judgement added that “while Plaintiff’s original arrangement of the word ‘Despacito’ in his lyrics is protectable, Defendants did not copy any creative selection that could constitute protectable expression.”
The video for Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee’s ‘Despasito’ has amassed more than 6.9 billion streams on YouTube since being released in 2017.
However, in 2018 the record-breaking music video was deleted from YouTube by a group of hackers, just days after making history by becoming the first video to reach 5 billion views.
The hackers attacked other videos posted by Vevo, affecting artists including Selena Gomez, Shakira, Taylor Swift and Drake. The video for ‘Despicito’ has since been reinstated.