Shakira & Carlos Vives Respond to Reported Plagiarism Complaint

Shakira and Carlos Vives
Courtesy Photo

"'La Bicicleta' is a completely original work."

Representatives for Shakira and Carlos Vives have responded to reports of a lawsuit alleging that parts of their megahit "La Bicicleta" was lifted from songs by a Cuban artist.

"Neither Carlos Vives or Shakira have received any copy of a lawsuit pertaining to 'La Bicicleta,' and as such abstain from commenting on this matter," representatives for the two artists said in a statement sent to Billboard. "'La Bicicleta' is a completely original work and they adamantly reject any allegation to the contrary."

Livan Rafael Castellanos, known as Livam, filed a complaint against Shakira and Vives in a court in Spain, Shakira’s country of residence, according to Spanish press reports. The case was declared admissible by court judges.

In the wake of the filing in Madrid mercantile court, Spanish composers' rights society SGAE said it will retain royalties for the song until the case is resolved.

Livam’s complaint refers specifically to the lyrics and music of a part of the chorus of both songs, according to court documents obtained by Madrid’s El Mundo newspaper.

The Cuban artist and his publisher, Maryla Dianik Romeu of MDRB Music Publishing, accuse the artists and their representatives of plagiarizing Livam's song “Yo Te Quiero Tanto,” which he wrote in 1997. The court documents state that the song was one that Livam had sent to various publishers and labels for consideration when he was looking for a publishing deal. He signed a contract with EMI Publishing Spain in 2011 for his catolog, which included “Yo Te Quiero Tanto.”

In his chorus, Livam sings “yo te quiero tanto” (“I love you so much”) to a tropical beat, while Shakira and Vives’ chorus goes "que te sueño y que te quiero tanto" (“I dream about you and I love you so much”).  A music expert witness in Livam’s case attested to the fact that the songs share “the same rhythm and the same melody” in the cited part of the chorus. It seems like a tenuous accusation since the alleged similarity is limited to that one line in the song.

Last October, according to El Mundo, representatives for the two sides met to discuss a settlement in the matter, but no agreement was reached. The complaint was filed in the Madrid court on Feb. 3 and names Vives, Shakira, producer/composer Andres Eduardo Castro, Sony Music Publishing Latino and nine other producers.

“La Bicicleta” is a finalist in five Billboard Latin Music Awards song categories, including hot Latin song of the year, digital song of the year and Latin pop song of the year. The Colombian stars’ joyful duet won both record and song of the year at the 2016 Latin Grammys. It has been viewed nearly 8 million times on YouTube.

Sony Music was found liable in New York court for copyright infringement in a 2014 case involving another Shakira hit, “Loca.” That ruling was overturned and the case dismissed in 2015, however, when a judge ruled that Dominican songwriter Ramon Arias Vasquez had faked a cassette tape on which he claimed to have recorded a similar song (“Loca con su Tigurere” ) before Shakira’s.