It’s almost become a model in recent years: If a song’s a hit, the copyright-infringement lawsuits follow, and Dua Lipa was clobbered with two of them in four days last week. Her global hit “Levitating,” which has spent 68 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100, has drawn two lawsuits from songwriters claiming the song infringes on their compositions, according to multiple media reports.
The first was filed March 1 by a Florida reggae group called Artikal Sound System, claiming that Lipa’s song lifts from their relatively obscure 2017 track, “Live Your Life.” That complaint includes little specific detail beyond claiming that the two tracks are so similar that it was “highly unlikely that ‘Levitating’ was created independently.”
In the second, more-detailed legal complaint, filed on March 4 in New York, songwriters L. Russell Brown and Sandy Linzer accused Lipa of copying both their 1979 song “Wiggle and Giggle All Night” and 1980 song “Don Diablo,” two tracks dating from the disco era. The pair claim the opening melody to “Levitating” was a “duplicate” of the melody to their songs; there is some similarity in the rhythmic delivery of the opening phrases in the verses, before the melodies diverge. Brown and Linzer’s attorneys claim that the segment of the melody in question played a major role in the song’s success on TikTok and related chart success.
“The signature melody is the most listened to and recognizable part of the infringing works and plays a crucial role in their popularity,” they wrote. “Because video creators frequently truncate the already brief snippets of sound on TikTok, the signature melody often comprises fifty percent or more of these viral videos.”
In their complaint, Brown and Linzer’s attorneys pointed to press interviews in which they claim Lipa “admitted that she deliberately emulated prior eras” and “took inspiration” to create a “retro” sound.
“In seeking nostalgic inspiration, defendants copied plaintiffs’ creation without attribution,” they wrote. The complaint also names as defendants Warner Music Group, guest rapper DaBaby (whose participation in the remix Lipa has disavowed in the wake of the rapper’s homophobic comments last year), and others involved in the song.
In an unusual statement for a legal complaint, lawyers for Brown and Linzer resorted to puns to make their case: “Defendants have levitated away plaintiffs’ intellectual property,” they wrote. “Plaintiffs bring suit so that defendants cannot wiggle out of their willful infringement.”
Reps for Lipa, Warner Music and the multiple writers and publishers connected to the song either declined or did not immediately respond to Variety’s requests for comment, punning or no.
Hear the tracks in question below: