Justin Bieber and Usher Sued for Copyright Infringement Over “Somebody to Love”
Justin Bieber and Usher’s “Somebody to Love” hit the charts in 2010, but a pair of Virginia-based songwriters are claiming the hit song was stolen from them, and are asking for a cool $10 million — “or other such amount as may be proven at trial.”
R&B singer Devin “De Rico” Copeland and songwriter Mareio Overton claim in a lawsuit that they wrote “Somebody to Love" in 2008, and that De Rico released the song on his album My Story II the same year, The Wrap reports.
Justin Bieber released “Somebody to Love” on his own album My World 2.0 in 2010.
The suit claims a long timeline with a complicated chain of command: the singer/songwriter pair met up with the scouting company Sangreel Media through a promoter, and, the lawsuit alleges, Sangreel gave the album to Usher.
The lawsuit also says that the pair somehow talked to Usher’s mother Jonetta Patton, who is sometimes Usher’s manager, who, according to the lawsuit, said that Usher was interested on bringing them on tour. They claim that Usher worked up his own demo version of the song, posted it on YouTube, and decided not to record it. Justin, they say, picked up the song and included it on My World 2.0.
Usher later was featured in a remix version doing lead vocals with Justin doing backup.
De Rico and Mareio claim that in addition to the title being similar, the songs have the same time signature and chorus hook, the chord progressions and timing are similar, have similar use of call-and-response, and — this is supposed to be the lead piece of evidence, apparently — use the same “one measure of strategic silence just prior to or at the beginning of the chorus.”
Without seeing the document, this looks pretty silly. Call-and-response, strategic silence, and certain chord progressions are staples of pop music — as is, obviously, the song title “Somebody to Love.” But it’s hard to judge without hearing the “original” song.
Maybe the plaintiffs just saw a cool opportunity for a settlement, or maybe there’s more to this than meets the eye in some other way. In any case, with the information we have now, it doesn’t look especially compelling to us. What do you think?