Today In Songwriting Lawsuits: The Weeknd Faces Legal Action from a British Songwriting Trio

“The Weeknd’s songwriting process includes using other people’s work to write songs….”

Multiple British songwriters have filed a lawsuit against The Weeknd – real name Abel Makkonen Tesfaye.

Filed at the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, Brian Clover, Scott McCulloch, and William Smith claim that the Canadian singer has outright copied their song, ‘I Need To Love,’ in order to produce ‘A Lonely Night.’  Tesfaye, along with his songwriting associates, blatantly copied the song and kept all the profits without ever crediting them, the complaint alleges.

Clover, McCulloch, and Smith originally wrote, recorded, and produced ‘I Need To Love’ between 2004 and 2005.  They collectively control the copyrights to the work.

Following the song’s release, Big Life Music had bought the rights to pitch to artists and labels.  Universal Music Group (UMG) then bought the publisher in 2008.

In 2016, UMG told the trio that no one had picked up their songs.  Thus, the music group relinquished its claim to their works.

Then, The Weeknd released Starboy, which shot the singer to instant fame.

The lawsuit reads,

The trio first became aware of ‘A Lonely Night’ when plaintiff Clover heard the song while shopping at Topman in Colchester, UK.

“Mr. Clover instantly knew that the song he was hearing was, in fact, the trio’s ‘I Need To Love.

‘A Lonely Night,’ they claim, remains eerily similar to their original song.  They presented a musicologist’s findings, who said “substantial similarities” exist between both songs.

The musicologist wrote,

“In my opinion, based on the level of detail in which these similarities are found, these similarities could only result from copying.”

According to him, Tesfaye and his songwriters outright stole the most memorable passages, or ‘hooks,’ the melody, harmony, rhythm, and foundation.

The Weeknd is no stranger to song theft lawsuits.  In fact, taking a swipe at his previous lawsuits, the trio explained,

Clearly, the Weeknd does not create his own work, but merely slavishly copies others.

The Weeknd’s songwriting process includes using other people’s work to write songs.

You can view the full lawsuit below.


Featured image by Pedro Mora (CC by 3.0).

2 Responses

  1. Tami

    I smell another lawsuit. Caught him on SNL with song Afraid to love. Background singers wooing “hope you don’t mind, hope you don’t mind” so obviously Elton’s tune.