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Judge dismisses one of the song-theft lawsuits over Dua Lipa’s Levitating

By | Published on Wednesday 7 June 2023

Dua Lipa

A US judge has dismissed one of the song-theft lawsuits filed in relation to Dua Lipa’s 2020 hit ‘Levitating’. Florida-based band Artikal Sound System claimed that that song lifted elements of their 2017 track ‘Live Your Life’.

But the judge wasn’t impressed with the theory put forward by the band for how Lipa and her team may have heard ‘Live Your Life’ before writing ‘Levitating’.

Which possibly isn’t surprising. Access was theorised on the basis that a co-writer of another song on the album on which ‘Levitating’ appears is – like Artikal Sound System – from the Florida city of Delray Beach and was mentored by the brother-in-law of one the band’s members.

According to Billboard, judge Sunshine S Sykes stated in her dismissal of the lawsuit that: “These attenuated links, which bear little connection to either of the two musical compositions at issue here, also do not suggest a reasonable likelihood that defendants actually encountered plaintiffs’ song”.

The band also argued that they have performed the song at lots of shows, have sold “several hundred” CDs featuring the track, and that ‘Live Your Life’ is available for any budding song thief to stream.

Though recent precedent in song-theft cases has generally said that songs being available on Spotify or YouTube is not enough to prove access, and a bunch of shows and a few hundred CD sales are also unlikely to be sufficient to employ the “well, they must of heard it!” card. Indeed, said Sykes, those arguments are “too generic or too insubstantial”.

On the suggestion Team Lipa might have heard the song at an Artikal Sound System gig, she went on: “Plaintiffs’ failure to specify how frequently they performed ‘Live Your Life’ publicly during the specified period, where these performances took place, and the size of the venues and/or audiences precludes the court from finding that plaintiffs’ live performances of the song plausibly contributed to its saturation of markets in which defendants would have encountered it”.

So there you go. Although Sykes dismissed Artikal Sound System’s lawsuit, they do now have the option to file an amended complaint addressing the issues raised by the judge. We await to see if they do just that.

Of course, this isn’t the only song-theft lawsuit in relation to ‘Levitating’. Songwriters L Russell Brown and Sandy Linze also sued Lipa alleging that her hit ripped off not one but two songs they wrote back in 1979 and 1980.