Dua Lipa must face lawsuit claiming she copied ‘Levitating’


By Jonathan Stempel

NEW YORK (Reuters) – A federal judge in Manhattan said the British pop star Dua Lipa must face a lawsuit accusing her of copying her 2021 megahit “Levitating” from a 1979 disco song.

U.S. District Judge Katherine Polk Failla on Tuesday said songwriters L. Russell Brown and Sandy Linzer could try to prove “substantial similarity” between “Levitating” and their song “Wiggle and Giggle All Night.”

Lawyers for Lipa and her record label Warner Records did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The lawsuit, filed in March 2022, claimed that “Levitating” shared “compositional elements” with “Wiggle,” most significantly by duplicating its opening melody.

Defense lawyers argued that it was implausible to believe that Lipa, 27, heard “Wiggle” before writing “Levitating.”

Failla agreed, but said the plaintiffs alleged “just enough facts” to argue that the songs were so “strikingly similar,” including by sharing a “repetitive rhythm” and “signature melody,” that Lipa must have copied theirs.

“The court cannot foreclose the possibility of plaintiffs meeting the undoubtedly high bar of proving striking similarity,” Failla wrote.

Jason Brown, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, in a statement said they “have great respect for the artists of today but if their material is used there must be proper attribution and compensation. We look forward to conducting discovery and taking this case to trial.”

Failla’s opinion does not cover the plaintiffs’ claim that “Levitating” copied another song, “Don Diablo,” to which they owned a copyright.

“Levitating,” from Lipa’s album “Future Nostalgia,” spent 77 weeks on Billboard’s Hot 100 U.S. singles chart, and was the No. 1 song on Billboard’s 2021 year-end chart.

In June, a federal judge in Los Angeles dismissed a lawsuit accusing Lipa of copying “Levitating” from a 2017 song by the Florida reggae group Artikal Sound System.

Another lawsuit filed in Los Angeles on July 31 claimed that Lipa never got permission from the musician Bosko Kante to include his “talk box” recording in remixes of “Levitating.”

The case is Larball Publishing Co et al v Lipa et al, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 22-01872.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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