At the heart of U.S. District Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein’s ruling was his finding that a key piece of evidence — specifically a cassette tape on which songwriter Ramon Arias Vasquez had allegedly recorded the original song — was fake.
“Here was a basic issue of fraud in the trial,” said judge Hellerstein, according to a Reuters report.
Hellerstein’s ruling is a dramatic change from his previous ruling in 2014, when he found that Sony/ATV Latin and Sony/ATV Discos were liable for copyright infringement for “Loca,” which was included on Shakira’s 2010 album, Sale el Sol.
According to Reuters, on Aug. 10, Hellerstein said new evidence brought by Sony offered proof that the cassette Arias had allegedly used to record the song was not from 1998, as he had claimed, and that he lost faith in his testimony.
The original suit against Sony was brought forth in 2012 by indie publisher Mayimba Music, which administers Romeo Santos’ songs and won Independent Publisher of the year at the 2015 ASCAP Latin Music Awards.
Mayimba claimed “Loca” ripped off a song called “Loca con su Tiguere,” originally written by Arias Vasquez in the mid-1990s.
Arias Vasquez, who sang his song to Judge Hellerstein during the original 2014 trial, testified at the time that about eight years ago, he met Dominican singer El Cata and introduced him to two of his songs, including “Loca con su Tiguere.”
El Cata says he wrote the song, which was subsequently recorded by Shakira in both English and Spanish and featured El Cata singing portions.
-Additional reporting by The Hollywood Reporter‘s Eriq Gardner