In the world of music, copyright suits are nothing new. Many high-profile recording artists have been sued over the years for “borrowing” other people’s work without permission.
Ariana Grande is the latest singer to be slapped with a lawsuit, which claims that she copied the chorus of her hit song “7 Rings.”
A Year of Controversy
Since its release in January 2019, Ariana Grande’s song “7 Rings” has been a lightning rod for plagiarism accusations. Rapper Princess Nokia cited the similar lyrics to her track “Mine,” while Soulja Boy said that the chorus borrowed from his song “Pretty Boy Swag.”
Rapper 2 Chainz also claimed that the video heavily borrowed visual elements from his iconic “pink trap house” for her music video.
Ironically, Ariana already had to pay out steep royalties for using the melody of “My Favorite Things” from “The Sound of Music.”
She signed away a staggering 90% of royalties for the song to the estate of Rodgers and Hammerstein, the songwriters behind the 1959 musical.
A New Lawsuit
Now, hip-hop singer, songwriter, and producer DOT (real name Josh Stone) is suing Ariana over the massive hit track. His lawyers claim that there is a distinct similarity between “7 Rings” and the chorus of his 2017 song “You Need I Got It.”
The lawsuit filed by DOT’s lawyers claims that “[f]rom a scientific, musicological perspective, the rhythmic structure, metrical placement, duration of rhythmic pattern and lyrical elements of composition in ‘7 Rings’ are either identical or substantially similar to [‘You Need It I Got It].”
Ariana isn’t alone in the suit; her co-defendants include multiple songwriters and producers who worked on the track, as well as the publishers of the album.
They could be on the hook for “destruction; actual damages and profits attributable to the infringement or, alternatively, statutory damages; and attorneys’ fees and other related costs.”
Other Notable Copyright Infringement Suits in Music History
- 1963: Chuck Berry sues the Beach Boys over “Surfin’ in the U.S.A.”, eventually gets songwriting credit three years later.
- 1972: Led Zeppelin settles with blues musician and songwriter Willie Dixon over “Bring It On Home” and “Whole Lotta Love.”
- 1975: George Harrison guilty of “subconscious plagiarism” over the resemblance of “My Sweet Lord” to the Chiffon’s “He’s So Fine.”
- 1990: Vanilla Ice settles with Queen and David Bowie over the iconic baseline he plagiarized from “Under Pressure” for his song “Ice Ice Baby.”
- 2014: Robin Thicke and Pharrell admit that they infringed on Marvin Gaye’s “Got to Give It Up” They had to pay over $5 million to Gaye’s estate as well as 50% of future royalties on the popular track “Blurred Lines.”