8 Sep, 2023

Sam Smith and Normani win copyright lawsuit over "Dancing With a Stranger"

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Sam Smith and Normani win copyright lawsuit over "Dancing With a Stranger"

Duo’s 2019 hit was alleged to have imitated 2015 song "Dancing With Strangers", performed by Jordan Vincent.

Sam Smith has won a copyright lawsuit filed by songwriters who claimed Smith’s hit "Dancing With a Stranger" imitated their own track.

Jordan Vincent, Christopher Miranda and Rosco Banlaoi had alleged that their song "Dancing With Strangers", performed by Vincent, was infringed upon by Smith’s song, a duet with US singer Normani which shares the same chorus line “dancing with a stranger”. Dancing With Strangers amassed over 500,000 streams after being uploaded to Soundcloud in 2015.

The complainants argued that Smith and Normani’s song, co-written with songwriter Jimmy Napes and production duo Stargate, appropriated “lyrics, pitch sequence, melodic contour, metric placement of the syllables, rhythm, feel, and structure”.

As reported in Billboard and Rolling Stone, Californian judge Wesley L Hsu dismissed the case on Wednesday, saying that “most if not all of the plaintiff’s claimed similarities” were not protectable by law, and that the phrase “dancing with a stranger” was not unique enough, pointing out “nearly 20 references” in other previous songs.

Smith’s legal team had previously described the legal claim as “rambling,” “nonsensical” and “repetitive”, and that it “relies on hyperbole and ignores established circuit law”.

Released in 2019, "Dancing With a Stranger" reached No 3 in the UK singles chart and No 7 in the US, where it spent 45 weeks on the chart.

The victory follows numerous recent wins by Ed Sheeran against songwriters who had claimed he infringed their work. In March 2022, Sheeran won a case against Sami Chokri and Ross O’Donoghue who had claimed his song "Shape of You" infringed their own track "Oh Why". In May 2023 he then won two other lawsuits filed against him over alleged similarities between his song "Thinking Out Loud" and Marvin Gaye’s "Let’s Get It On".

Following the latter, Sheeran said: “These chords are common building blocks which were used to create music long before "Let’s Get It On" was written and will be used to make music long after we are all gone.They are a songwriter’s alphabet – our tool kit, and should be there for us all to use. No one owns them or the way they are played, in the same way nobody owns the colour blue.”

Smith is currently enjoying their 13th UK Top 10 hit: "Desire", produced by Calvin Harris, sits at No 7 in this week’s chart. The pair spent six weeks at No 1 with their previous collaboration, "Promises", in 2018.

Source: The Guardian

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