Judge to hold hearing on whether Shakira's copyright accuser lied

Tue May 26, 2015 5:52pm EDT
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By Andrew Chung

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A U.S. judge who ruled that pop star Shakira's 2010 hit single "Loca" was an illegal copy of a Dominican songwriter's work now says the songwriter may have lied on the stand and is prepared to head to Puerto Rico to sort out the truth.

U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein said in federal court in Manhattan on Tuesday that new evidence presented by two Sony Corp units, the defendants in the case, have caused him to "lose trust" in the trial testimony.

He ordered Sony and Mayimba Music, owner of the rights to the song "Loca con su Tiguere," composed by Ramon Arias Vasquez, to appear for a seven-day hearing in August on what Sony says is proof a cassette tape at the center of the copyright accusations was fabricated.

Since several of Sony's new witnesses might have trouble obtaining visas to travel to the United States from the Dominican Republic, Hellerstein offered to hold the hearing in Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory, and asked the attorneys to find out whether that would solve the visa issues.

Mayimba sued Sony in 2012. Last August, Hellerstein ruled that Shakira's single and another artist's song illegally copied from Arias' work and found Sony/ATV Latin and Sony/ATV Discos liable for distributing the infringing songs.

In his August ruling, Hellerstein found that Arias's song was recorded onto a cassette tape in 1998. A copy of the song on the tape was registered at the Copyright Office in 2011.

In the past few months, however, Sony submitted evidence that the tape was a fabrication made in 2011, and that Arias lied under oath about it, Hellerstein said in an April 30 order.

The defendants also submitted affidavits that purport to show that the underlying music to Arias's song was composed in 2009 by a different artist, the judge said.   Continued...

Shakira in Las Vegas, Nevada May 18, 2014.  REUTERS/Steve Marcus