Dua Lipa‘s lawyers have made their opening statements in a copyright infringement claim brought against the singer, saying she had no prior exposure to two songs named in the lawsuit, and moving for the case to be dismissed.
In March, songwriting duo L. Russell Brown and Sandy Linzer alleged that Lipa “duplicated” the “signature” opening melody for her 2020 single ‘Levitating’ from their 1979 song ‘Wiggle And A Giggle All Night’ and 1980 song ‘Don Diablo’.
The plantiff’s complaint argued that Lipa had previously said she “deliberately emulated prior eras” to create a “retro” sound. The pair’s attorneys wrote: “In seeking nostalgic inspiration, defendants copied plaintiffs’ creation without attribution.”
Yesterday (August 31), Rolling Stone revealed that a letter to U.S. District Judge Hon. Katherine Polk Failla contained a dismissal motion.
Representing Lipa (and ‘Levitating’ songwriters Clarence Coffee, Jr., Sarah Hudson, Stephen Kozmeniuk ), lawyer Chrstine Lepera said the “‘Levitating’ writers never heard the [plaintiffs’] compositions”.
“The alleged similarities… are unprotectable, and the result of the coincidental use of basic musical building blocks.”
Lepera continued to add that the complaint also “fails to plausibly allege a particular chain of events leading to access” and that the lawsuit is “devoid of the necessary showing that ‘Wiggle’ and ‘Don Diablo’ were disseminated widely enough that the songwriters would have heard them in the absence of some sort of special access.” Lepera also argued that “mere availability” of the two songs via streaming platforms wasn’t evidence enough considering the “many millions of musical recordings”.
Furthermore, Lepera argued that the complaint doesn’t show ‘Don Diablo’ as having been registered with the US Copyright Office ahead of the lawsuit’s commencement, arguing that “copyright registration is a precondition to filing a claim for copyright infringement”. “A complaint that fails to do so must be dismissed,” she concluded.
Lipa’s ‘Levitating’ featured on her second studio album ‘Future Nostalgia’, released in March 2020. A five-star review of the album saw NME‘s Rhian Daly note how ‘Levitating’ “struts on a rubbery bassline and syncopated handclaps”.
Two remixes followed the single’s release, the first featuring Madonna and Missy Elliot dropped in August 2020, while the second, featuring DaBaby, was released in October that year.
Brown and Linzer’s lawsuit marked the second complaint that had been filed against Lipa in March. A week prior, on March 2, Florida reggae band Artikal Sound System filed a complaint in Los Angeles, accusing Lipa of copying elements from their 2017 track ‘Live Your Life’.
The group claimed the two songs bore such strong similarities that it was “highly unlikely that ‘Levitating’ was created independently”.
Lipa has until November 12, 2022 to respond to the complaint.