A legal dispute has erupted in Manhattan as British pop star Dua Lipa faces a lawsuit that accuses her of copying elements of her 2021 megahit “Levitating” from a disco song dating back to 1979.
U.S. District Judge Katherine Polk Failla weighed in on the matter, ruling that songwriters L. Russell Brown and Sandy Linzer have the opportunity to demonstrate “substantial similarity” between “Levitating” and their composition “Wiggle and Giggle All Night.”
While lawyers representing Dua Lipa and her record label, Warner Records, have yet to respond to requests for comment, the lawsuit, filed in March 2022, contends that “Levitating” shares distinct “compositional elements” with “Wiggle.” The focal point of similarity centers around the replicated opening melody.
In response, defense lawyers challenged the notion that Lipa, aged 27, could have encountered “Wiggle” before crafting “Levitating.”
Although Judge Failla acknowledged the defense’s argument, she also acknowledged the plaintiffs’ contentions. She noted that the songs exhibit a level of “strikingly similar” attributes, including a “repetitive rhythm” and a “signature melody,” sufficient to entertain the claim that Lipa might have drawn inspiration from “Wiggle and Giggle All Night.” While expressing her opinion that the bar for proving “striking similarity” is indeed high, Failla didn’t dismiss the possibility.
Jason Brown, an attorney representing the plaintiffs, emphasized their respect for contemporary artists, underscoring the need for proper acknowledgment and compensation when using existing material. Brown anticipates discovery and a trial to shed further light on the matter.
It’s worth noting that Failla’s ruling does not address the plaintiffs’ assertion that “Levitating” also borrowed from another song, “Don Diablo,” a piece to which they held a copyright.
“Levitating,” featured in Lipa’s album “Future Nostalgia,” etched its mark on the charts, spending a remarkable 77 weeks on Billboard’s Hot 100 U.S. singles chart and reigning as the No. 1 song on Billboard’s 2021 year-end chart.
This lawsuit is not the only legal entanglement Lipa has faced. In June, a federal judge in Los Angeles dismissed a lawsuit claiming that Lipa copied “Levitating” from a 2017 track by the Florida reggae group Artikal Sound System. Moreover, another lawsuit filed in Los Angeles contends that Lipa included musician Bosko Kante’s “talk box” recording in remixes of “Levitating” without obtaining permission.
The case, titled Larball Publishing Co et al v Lipa et al, is currently being deliberated in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York under case number 22-01872.