The duo was accused in a new lawsuit of stealing both melody and lyrics from a 2015 song of the same title.
Normani And Sam Smith Sued For Copyright Infringement
According to Rolling Stone, the copyright infringement lawsuit was filed in a Los Angeles federal court on March 4 by three songwriters, Christopher Miranda, Rosco Banlaoi, and Jordan Vincent.
The songwriters accused Normani and Smith of mirroring their song, released on Vincent’s YouTube channel and Spotify on August 30, 2017, in the “title, chorus, and composition.”
An excerpt of the court document reads, “the hook/chorus in both songs — the most significant part and artistic aspect of these works — contains the lyrics’ dancing with a stranger’ being sung over a nearly identical melody and musical composition.”
The lawsuit shows a side-by-side comparison of the two songs and claims that even the music videos are strikingly similar. “Both videos consist of a girl performing interpretive dance alone in a minimalist studio, interspersed with shots of a male vocalist,” the plaintiffs claim.
As for whether the similarity in the music videos is just a coincidence, the filing argues, “girl dancing alone is not an obvious visual theme for a music video titled ‘Dancing With a Stranger.'”
It claims that if the striking similarity between songs is considered, then it is not impossible that “the defendants did not independently create the infringing composition and sound recording.”
The lawsuit alleges that Smith, alongside other co-writers on the song, James Napier and Tor Erik Hermansen, as well as Normani’s manager Brandon Silverstein and her mentor Tim Blacksmith, all had access to the 2017 release, its video, and the video’s call sheet.
It says that they particularly had access to the call sheet Thrive Records after they were given the records the materials in 2015 because the label had been “extremely interested in using plaintiff’s song for another artist,” even though the deal never went through.
The Plaintiffs Are Seeking Damages
The lawsuit continues, “Another suspicious coincidence is that the call sheet for plaintiff’s music video specifically mentioned using the visual concept of mannequins coming to life. Although this concept was not ultimately utilized in the plaintiff’s music video, Normani and the director of defendants’ music video gave an interview in 2019 discussing how defendants wanted to use porcelain statues coming to life for their music video.”
Reps for Normani and Smith haven’t responded to the lawsuit, but the plaintiff noted that the odds that the defendants would have independently come up with such similar ideas is “astronomical.”
In addition, a report from musicologist Dr. Alexander Stewart serves as an exhibit to corroborate the plaintiffs’ claims. According to Stewart, “given the degree of similarity, it’s extremely unlikely that [Smith’s song] was created independently from [Vincent’s].”
Vincent and his co-writers are seeking an undisclosed amount in real and punitive damages, claiming that Smith and Normani’s record, which has been certified platinum in more than ten countries, “generated significant revenue and profits.”
Universal Music Group, Sony Music Group, and EMI Music Publishing were listed as defendants. The filing claims that “defendants’ representatives were contacted in November 2020 about the similarities” and “given every chance to come up with an innocent explanation.”
However, they refused to respond to the matter despite several assurances that they would. “This suit is being filed as a last resort,” the plaintiffs stated.
It’s Raining Copyright Infringement
Normani and Smith have joined the long list of musicians who have been recently faced with copyright infringement lawsuits. As The Blast previously reported, singer Dua Lipa was sued for her “Levitating.”
Per reports, a small band from Florida called Artikal Sound System accused the British singer of stealing the inspiration for the record from one of their songs, “Live Your Life,” which was released in 2017.
Although South Florida banned failed to provide tangible evidence to prove Lipa’s track theft, they claimed that the two songs were way too similar and it was “unlikely” she was innocent.
However, in a shocking twist, a second copyright infringement lawsuit was filed against Lipa on March 7 by reps of the two songwriters, L. Russell Brown and Sandy Linzer.
Brown and Linzer, who wrote the songs “Wiggle And Giggle All Night” and “Don Diablo,” respectively, claimed, “the infringing works have compositional elements substantially similar to those of the [Brown and Linzer, or BL in the lawsuit] songs.”
Lipa is yet to publicly comment on both lawsuits.