Facing a pair of copyright lawsuits over her smash hit song “Levitating,” Dua Lipa has lawyered up – hiring the same attorney who won similar cases for Katy Perry, Jay-Z and Drake.
Dua has retained Christine Lepera and her law firm Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp to represent her in both lawsuits, court records show, including one filed in New York that claims she ripped off a 1979 disco track, and another in California that claims she stole material from a 2017 reggae song.
Lepera is a go-to defense attorney in such cases. In just the last two years, she has won rulings defeating such cases against Jay-Z – he was accused of illegally sampling a 1960s soul song on “Paper Chase” – and against Drake, who was sued for using a spoken-word jazz track in his 2013 song “Pound Cake.”
Most recently, Lepera won a blockbuster ruling at a federal appeals court clearing Katy Perry of stealing elements of her 2013 chart-topper “Dark Horse” from an earlier song called “Joyful Noise.” The decision not only avoided millions in damages against Perry but included precedent-setting case law, stressing that infringement lawsuits should not be brought over basic musical “building blocks.”
The new cases Dua Lipa is facing will likely deal with similar issues as the “Dark Horse” case against Katy Perry — about the limits of copyright protection for music. The earlier song might sound like “Levitating,” but Lipa’s legal team is likely to argue that both songs merely contain common musical tropes that aren’t covered by copyrights and that Dua was free to use when she created her new song.
In one case, a Florida reggae band named Artikal Sound System claims that Dua lifted the core hook for her song from their 2015 “Live Your Life,” arguing that two are so similar that it was “highly unlikely that ‘Levitating’ was created independently.”
In the other, songwriters L. Russell Brown and Sandy Linzer accuse Dua Lipa of copying a 1979 song called “Wiggle and Giggle All Night” with melody in Levitating that starts when Lipa begins singing, “If you wanna run away with me…” They call that portion of her song a “duplicate” of their own.
Both cases are still in the earliest stages. Lepera, joined on the cases by Mitchell Silberberg attorneys David A. Steinberg and Gabriella Nourafchan Ismaj, will first file an “answer” to the cases in the weeks ahead, and then potentially move to have them thrown out.
In the California case filed by Artikal Sound System, the accusers are represented by attorneys Robert S. Besser, a solo practitioner, and Stewart L. Levy, of the law firm Eisenberg Hefler and Levy. In the New York case filed by Brown and Linzer, the accusers are represented by attorneys Patrick Sidney Almonrode and Jason Travis Brown of Brown LLC.