Spanish Court Sides With Shakira and Carlos Vives in ‘La Bicicleta’ Plagiarism Case

A Spanish court has cleared Colombian singers Shakira and Carlos Vives of plagiarism charges over their Latin Grammy award-winning song, ‘La Bicicleta’ (The Bicycle).

The case first started two years ago when Cuban singer Liván Rafael Castellanos – best known as Livam – claimed that Shakira and Vives flagrantly infringed on his own work, ‘Yo Te Quiero Tanto’ (I Love You So Much).

According to music publisher MDRB, which first filed the complaint, ‘La Bicicleta’ allegedly copies Livam’s original song melody and lyrics.

Testifying in a Madrid courtroom last month, Shakira said she had never heard of Livam nor of his track.

[Livam’s song] is nothing like…‘La Bicicleta.’   The melody is different, the music is different, [and] the subject matter is different.

Explaining that ‘La Bicicleta’ is a folk song which pays tribute to her origin, she added ‘Yo Te Quiero Tanto’ is a ‘Dominican salsa’ which ‘tries to be a folk song’ but is ‘a mess.’

My [song] talks about my homeland, it’s a salute to my homeland Barranquilla, Colombia, not Cuba.”

Vives, who produced the song, also denied hearing of Livam and his song, ‘Yo Te Quiero Tanto.’

Almost in tears, Livam, who works in Madrid as a composer and a producer, had told the court,

“It’s like they’re touching one of my children… they’re stealing from me.”

In ‘La Bicicleta,’ Vives and Shakira sing the Spanish generic phrase, ‘Que te sueño y te quiero tanto’ (I dream of you and I love you so much).  In ‘Yo Te Quiero Tanto,’ Livam sings an equally generic phrase, ‘Yo te quiero, yo te quiero tanto’ (I love you, I love you a lot).

The commercial court in Madrid came to the same conclusion.  Stating Livam’s lyrics remain “common [and] used in all sorts of songs and lyrics, all throughout history,” the court wrote,

There is no plagiarism whatsoever as claimed by the plaintiff in this lawsuit.

The court had also found that both songs had different melodies, rhythms, and harmonies.

While the ruling represents a major win for Shakira and Vives, Livam can still appeal the decision.

Shakira also remains in legal hot water in Spain.  She’ll appear in court next month to face charges of evading €14.5 million ($16.2 million) in taxes.


Featured image by Shakira111 (CC by 4.0).