Pop artist Dua Lipa and her team secured a significant victory in the copyright case against her filed by a little-known reggae band from Florida that had accused her of copying some of their work for her hit song “Levitating.”
In March, Artikal Sound System, an indie reggae band from Florida, filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles against Dua Lipa and Warner Records in which they claimed copyright infringement from their 2017 song titled “Live Your Life,” claiming that it is “substantially similar” to “Levitating.”
The band claimed that Dua Lipa and her associates had plenty of access to the song. In official court documentation, they wrote that “‘Live Your Life’ was commercially released on CD Baby in 2017 and appeared on a variety of streaming services including Spotify, Pandora, Apple Music, Amazon and Sound Cloud. The recording was and continues to be commercially available.” They also claimed that the song had been played at concerts and the band had sold hundreds of CDs with the song on it.
The band also claimed that one of Lipa’s co-writer had previously worked with a woman who was allegedly taught guitar by the brother-in-law of one band member. (No concrete proof was provided to verify this claim.)
However, U.S. District Judge Sunshine S. Sykes, the judge in the case, said that availability did not equal “access,” which is a key element in any copyright case.
In her ruling, Sykes wrote: “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 further expounded on the idea of access, stating that there was no evidence that Lipa or anyone close to her had attended one of the band’s concerts or that they had penetrated the larger global music market enough to the point where the artist or members of her creative team would have been exposed to the song.
The judge gave Artikal Sound System until June 16 to refile their case.
“Levitating” was released in 2020 on Lipa’s second studio album Future Nostalgia, eventually peaking at No. 2 on the Hot 100 and becoming the longest-running top 10 song ever by a female artist on the chart.
Artikal Sound System’s song “Live Your Life” can be heard here for comparison: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IKfGeCLAsvI.
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