A British music publishing company claims that the Weeknd’s hit song “The Hills” infringes on the copyright to composer Tom Raybould’s track “Revolution” from the soundtrack to the movie “The Machine.”
The movie was released in 2014.
In a lawsuit filed on Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, publisher Cutting Edge Music Services contends that producer Million Dollar Mano sent Raybould a direct message on March 9, 2015, stating, “I sampled your music might make it 2 the weeknd next album. Huge fan of what u did 4 the machine movie!” Mano, aka Emmanuel Nickerson, is also a defendant in the lawsuit, along with another producer, Illangelo, aka Carlo Montagnese.
Cutting Edge contends that “The Hills” contains substantial similarity to “original and unique portions” of the “Revolution” track.
“Specifically, both the Infringing Song and the Track featuring synthesizer bass-lines performed with almost identical idiosyncratic sounds at the same register and using the same pitch sequence, melodic phase structure and rhythmic durations,” the lawsuit states.
The lawsuit points out that the song “The Hills” received first week digital sales of 109,000 copies and 5.2 million domestic streams, and debuted at No. 20 on the Billboard Hot 100.
The album on which it is featured, “Beauty Behind the Madness,” debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, with sales of about 326,000 in the first week, the lawsuit states.
It seeks unspecified damages as well as an injunction barring further distribution of the song and album until Cutting Edge Music is given proper credit. It also calls for the current versions of the song and album to be removed from distribution.
“The lawsuit speaks for itself, and I appreciate my publisher the Cutting Edge Group standing up for composers in situations like the one I’m in,” Raybould said in a statement.
Also named as defendants are Belly, aka Ahmad Balshe, who helped compose the song and album; the Weeknd’s label XO; the labels Universal Music Group and Republic Records; publishers Warner/Chappell Music, Sony/ATV Music Publishing, Songs Music Publishing, WB Music Corp., Connoisseur of Connoisseurs; CP Music Corp.; Songs of SMP; Songs Hear the Art; and Sony/ATV Ballad.
Cutting Edge is represented by Tom Brackey, managing partner of the Los Angeles firm of Freund & Brackey.
A spokesman for Universal Music Group did not immediately return a request for comment.