Justin Bieber, Usher ordered to face copyright lawsuit

Thu Jun 18, 2015 4:39pm EDT
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By Jonathan Stempel

(Reuters) - Justin Bieber and Usher were ordered by a U.S. appeals court on Thursday to face a $10 million lawsuit claiming the singers illegally copied parts of a song composed by two Virginia songwriters.

By a 3-0 vote, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond revived a May 2013 lawsuit by Devin Copeland, an R&B singer known as De Rico, and his songwriting partner Mareio Overton, saying a lower court judge was wrong to dismiss it.

The plaintiffs claimed that three versions of the song "Somebody to Love" recorded by Bieber, Usher or both shared the beat pattern, time signature, and similar chords and lyrics with their song with the same name.

"After listening to the Copeland song and the Bieber and Usher songs as wholes, we conclude that their choruses are similar enough and also significant enough that a reasonable jury could find the songs intrinsically similar," Circuit Judge Pamela Harris wrote for the appeals court.

Among the other defendants were publishers such as Vivendi SA's Universal Music Publishing Group and Sony Corp's Sony/ATV Music Publishing.

Defense lawyers did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Duncan Byers, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, in an interview said the panel "recognized what my clients have said all along: it's the same melody and the same chorus."

The lawsuit will return to the lower court.   Continued...

Singers Justin Bieber and Usher (R) pose together after performing on NBC's "Today" show in New York in this November 23, 2011, file photo.  REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/Files