Justin Bieber and Skrillex received media attention of a different kind this week, finding themselves under fire from singer-songwriter Casey Dienel, aka White Hinterland. Dienel claimed that Bieber’s smash hit single Sorry wrongfully copies, “the specific and unique characteristics of the female vocal riff” from her 2014 track Ring The Bell; essentially, the o-o-o-ohs being questioned as an unauthorised sample.
To try and shine some light on the lawsuit, Skrillex, who produced the track alongside Blood, took to his Twitter with a video that demonstrated specifically how these o-o-o-ohs were created, proving they were in fact not sampled.
— Skrillex (@Skrillex) May 27, 2016
So, on the surface it looks as if this was just a simple instance where the pair of them both happened to stumble on the same artistic path, but in the eyes of copyright, that doesn’t necessarily matter. Arguably there is room for debate with this one, but let’s pretend it is completely obvious, if unintentional.
Take legendary Beatle, George Harrison, and his 1970 tune My Sweet Lord for example. Harrison was taken to court following the release of the song for copyright infringement with the 1962 He’s So Fine, written by Ronald Mack. Have a listen to them both and you can tell immediately that these have the same chord progressions and structural similarities. Harrison repeatedly insisted that he did not deliberately copy the music. In court, even the judge believed that he did not intentionally use He’s So Fine, but he nevertheless faced damages of $1,599,987.
Skip back to 2016, and we have a case where this unintentional, questionable, but semi-coincidental infringement is in question. White Hinterland’s song Ring The Bell, does feature that o-o-oh, in the opening but, only three notes, not the four featured in Bieber’s Sorry, but this is something that is just going to have to be debated.
Tastemaker Diplo and Skrillex collaborator chimed into the conversation recently explaining to TMZ, “I’m sure they’ll work out a deal with her. They don’t want to go to court with it.” He then compared the instance to his work with Beyonce with All Night, where the horns resembled Outkast‘s SpottieOttieDopaliscious. “I told them, and then we had to give OutKast 25% of the record.”
Who knows what might happen, in my opinion, I think it will be settled out of court like Diplo says, but in terms of is it just, I don’t entirely think so – but that’s just me. What do you think? Is White Hinterland Right or is this just a stunt to get some more publicity? Read Dienel’s full statement below and compare the two tracks:
Image: Global Dance Electronic