British pop star Dua Lipa and her music label, Warner Records, recently celebrated a legal victory as a copyright lawsuit against her hit song “Levitating” was dismissed by a Los Angeles federal court. The lawsuit, filed by Florida reggae group Artikal Sound System, accused Lipa of copying one of their songs. However, the judge, Sunshine Sykes, ruled that the band failed to prove that Lipa and the creators of “Levitating” had access to their song “Live Your Life” prior to making “Levitating”.
The Case Details
Artikal Sound System had claimed that their song was available on physical CDs and streaming platforms, but the judge found this argument “too insubstantial” to keep the lawsuit alive. The band was unable 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. This lack of detail prevented the court from finding that the band’s live performances of the song plausibly contributed to its saturation of markets in which Lipa and her team would have encountered it.
Although the lawsuit was dismissed, the band was given the opportunity to refile an amended complaint. However, two days later, attorneys for both Artikal Sound System and Lipa filed a joint motion, requesting the judge to permanently dismiss the case.
A Second Lawsuit
Interestingly, the “Live Your Life” lawsuit is not the only legal battle Lipa has faced over “Levitating”. Songwriters L. Russell Brown and Sandy Linzer claimed in a separate suit that “Levitating” copied their 1979 song “Wiggle and Giggle All Night” and a subsequent 1980 song titled “Don Diablo”. Lipa’s lawyer, Christine Lepera, defended the singer by stating that the “Levitating” writers had never heard the plaintiffs’ compositions and that the alleged similarities were the result of the coincidental use of basic musical building blocks.
This case came down to a rather simple question: did Dua Lipa even know the other song existed? In order to win a copyright infringement lawsuit you must show that the party heard the song that they have been accused of infringing. And in this case, as well as many others, it was difficult to prove.