Megastar The Weeknd in $ 50million copyright battle with Scottish songwriter duo
Scottish songwriters locked in a multi-million dollar copyright battle with megastar The Weeknd have recounted their “David and Goliath” fight for justice.
Scott McCulloch and Billy Smith of Lanarkshire say song they wrote with Essex musician Brian Clover in their Hamilton studio almost two decades ago was ‘plagiarized’ by music executives and used on The Weeknd album, Starboy.
They say their battle to prove the Grammy-winning star’s version of A Lonely Night was based on their track I need to love cost half a million dollars and put Billy’s house and savings on the line. .
And despite an American judge dismissing the case last year, the trio are ready to take on the “music mafia” by appealing their case through the Ninth Circuit of the Court of Justice. call from the United States.
Scott said, “The music industry is like the music mafia. They pick the best songs and then say ‘take it to court’. Chances are you won’t win. But you have to be in it to win it.
“The Weeknd is one of the greatest artists in the world right now. He’s huge. It’s really a battle between David and Goliath.
Scott, 48, Billy, 57, and co-writer Brian are suing Abel Tesfaye, who plays The Weeknd, claiming his song infringes their copyright.
They say Universal acquired the rights to their tracks in 2008 and that the song in question was shared on an online platform accessible by music executives around the world before all rights were transferred to them in 2016.
The dispute started when The Weeknd’s track came out a few weeks later and Brian overheard it while shopping at Topman.
The lawsuit against their songwriters was filed in the United States in 2019, with a musicologist saying “substantial similarities” could “only result from copying.”
They claim that a $ 100,000 settlement offer was made through lawyers, but the true value of the trail was never officially declared and they could be online for a percentage of 50 million. dollars.
They also claim to have discovered evidence that their own song was falsely registered under a pseudonym and believe that A Lonely Night continued to earn royalties when they should be frozen due to the dispute.
A series of attorneys, including one who clashed with Led Zeppelin over Stairway to Heaven, withdrew from their case. And last July, a judge ruled the trio couldn’t prove that The Weeknd co-writer had been exposed to their material or that the songs were “substantially similar.”
He allowed The Weeknd’s motion for summary judgment and dismissed the case. But the trio have new legal representation and say they are prepared to reveal to the courts a case of evidence they have so far not been allowed to disclose by lawyers.
Billy said, “If the evidence we had had been presented on day one, we think we would have won our case. We had several lawyers. If there’s a copyright infringement on a song, the industry knows the person has to have enough money to have a lawyer, but even when you do, that lawyer works for the industry. The industry regulates itself.
“We’ve approached the police in Scotland, the FBI, the CID, the fraud squad and no one wants to watch it. We had to become our own lawyers.
In a legal file, lawyers for The Weeknd called the trio’s trial “frivolous.”
We reached out to lawyers and Universal Music for comment.
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