A California federal court has denied a request by The Weeknd to reduce the scope of a copyright infringement lawsuit brought against him by three British songwriters who believe his song “A Lonely Night” plagiarizes theirs.
The suit was filed by Brian Clover, Scott McCulloch and Billy Smith, who claim The Weeknd copied their 2005 song “I Need To Love.”
The singer, whose real name is Abel M. Tesfaye, wanted to reduce the scope of the trio’s lawsuit by eliminating state law violations as well as secondary copyright infringement claims. But U.S. District Judge Percy Anderson denied this request, insisting that the plaintiffs had met what is known as the “plausibility standard” that has been adopted by the U.S. Supreme Court.
“The court concludes that the [complaint] alleges sufficient well-pleaded allegations to plausibly allege the secondary infringement and state law claims as alternatives to the unchallenged claim for direct copyright infringement.”
In April of this year, the three songwriters accused The Weeknd not only of copyright infringement but also of unjust enrichment.
The three claim that, in 2005, Big Life Music bought the rights to “I Need To Love” as well as other songs they wrote, which they believe were pitched to artists around the world. Three years later, Universal Music Group bought Big Life Music and the rights to “I Need To Love,” which they relinquished in 2016 after telling the three that they were unable to sell the song.
According to the three, The Weekend — only two weeks later — released “A Lonely Night” on his Starboy album, which not only topped the charts but also won a Grammy Award.
Judge Anderson has already dismissed many parts of the original suit, including claims for punitive damages, statutory damages, and attorney fees. He also dismissed claims of contributory and vicarious infringement, accounting, constructive trust, and unjust enrichment, but he gave the three the opportunity to amend these claims.
Subsequently, the three filed an amended complaint in September.