A new legal battle is heating up for Ariana Grande over her massive single “7 Rings.”
Singer, songwriter and producer Josh Stone, who performs under the name DOT, has sued Grande for allegedly ripping off the chorus of his 2017 track “You Need I Got It” for her 2019 single, which topped the Billboard Hot 100 for eight non-consecutive weeks last year.
The complaint, which was filed in U.S. District Court in New York on Thursday (Jan. 16) by Stone’s lawyer Tamir Young, opens with some impressive numbers related to “7 Rings,” noting that the single broke records for the most Spotify streams in 24 hours and that the video has been viewed over 642 million times on YouTube. It further estimates the song has earned over $10 million in revenues to date.
Young goes on to state that two different musicologists concluded “7 Rings” likely copied the choruses and hooks from “You Need I Got It,” with one finding 39 respective notes from the songs to be “identical.”
“From 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 I Got It],” the suit reads.
The complaint further highlights the obvious similarities between “7 Rings” lyrics “I want it/I got it/I want it/I got it” and Stone’s lyrics “You need it/I got it/You want it/I got it.”
In an attempt to establish access, the suit goes on to note that songwriter and producer Thomas Lee Brown — a co-defendant who has worked with Grande on all five of her studio albums — was in attendance at meetings Stone had with Universal Music Group executives in June 2017, during which he played “You Need I Got It,” among other songs.
Grande is slated to perform “7 Rings” at next week’s Grammys, where the song itself is up for two awards and Grande is nominated for five.
“The level of copying in ‘7 Rings’ is simply shocking,” Stone’s attorney Tamir Young tells Billboard. “This is a stronger case of infringement than ‘Blurred Lines’ or Katy Perry’s ‘Dark Horse.’ The rash of copyright infringement in music has caused incredible harm and injustice to lesser known or up and coming artists and songwriters.”
Stone is asking the court for declaratory judgment of copyright infringement; a judgment that enjoins Grande and her co-defendants from continued acts of infringement; judgment ordering defendants to deliver “7 Rings” to Stone for destruction; actual damages and profits attributable to the infringement or, alternatively, statutory damages; and attorneys’ fees and other related costs.
Grande’s co-defendants in the case are songwriter-producers Brown, Charles Michael Anderson and Michael David Foster; songwriters Taylor Monet Parks (a.k.a. Tayla Parx), Kimberly Anne Krysiuk, Victoria Monet McCants, and Njomza Vitia; BMG Rights Management; Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp.; Kobalt Songs Music Publishing; The Royalty Network Inc.; Universal Music Corporation; and Concord Music Group.
Grande’s reps did not respond to Billboard’s request for comment at time of publishing.
As Young points out, the last several years have seen a slew of major copyright infringement decisions in the music industry. In 2015, the children of R&B legend Marvin Gaye were awarded $7.4 million in a landmark copyright infringement case against Robin Thicke and others over his 2013 smash “Blurred Lines,” with a jury finding that Thicke and his collaborators had inadvertently infringed Gaye’s 1977 hit “Got to Give It Up.”
Just last year, Christian rapper Marcus Gray (a.k.a. Flame) was awarded $2.7 million in a copyright infringement suit against Katy Perry, Dr. Luke and several other co-defendants after a jury found the pop star had infringed Gray’s copyright in the 2008 song “Joyful Noise.” The decision in that case is currently being disputed by Perry’s legal team.