Justin Bieber and his mentor Usher have been hit with a $10 million lawsuit by two songwriters who claim the teen star’s 2010 single “Somebody to Love” violated the copyright of their earlier 2008 song.
In the lawsuit, filed Thursday, May 2 in US District Court in eastern Virginia, Devin Copeland — whose artist name is De Rico — and Mareio Overton allege that they wrote “Somebody to Love” in 2008, also the year De Rico released the song on his own album My Story II.
Bieber later performed a song entitled “Somebody to Love” on his March 2010 album My World 2.0. Writing credits list Jonathan Yip, Jeremy Reeves, Ray Romulus (production team called the Stereotypes), Heather Bright and Bieber.
In their complaint, Copeland and Overton say they gave their song to scouting company Sangreel Media via a promoter who, allegedly, “exposed” the album to Usher.
The pair claim that they later spoke to Usher’s mother and sometimes manager, Jonetta Patton, who allegedly told them that Usher had listened to the album and was interested in bringing Copeland on tour with him.
The duo also claim Usher created a demo version of “Somebody to Love” before posting it on YouTube but eventually decided not to record it.
A song with that title, however, was later recorded by Bieber and released as a single. Usher later featured in a remix version.
In addition to the song’s title, De Rico and Overton’s lawsuit claims the Bieber-Usher version of “Somebody To Love” contains numerous similarities to their original work.
These allegedly include the time signature, chorus hook, chord placement, use of ‘call-and-response’ structure, and “one measure of strategic silence just prior to or at the beginning of the chorus.”
“There is essentially a zero probability for the number of points of congruence between the two versions of ‘Somebody to Love,'” the lawsuit notes.
According to The Wrap, the songwriters are asking for “an amount not less that Ten Million and 00/100 Dollars… or other such amount as may be proven at trial,” for alleged contributory infringement, vicarious infringement, and copyright infringement.
As yet there has been no responding statement by either Bieber’s team or Usher.
While it remains to be seen how this lawsuit pans out, everyone is going to have an opinion on this. Solid case or fishing expedition? That’s the $10 million question.