H.E.R. Faces Copyright Infringement Lawsuit Over “Could’ve Been”

HER copyright infringement
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HER copyright infringement
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Photo Credit: MTV International / CC by 4.0

H.E.R. is facing a copyright infringement lawsuit over an alleged unlicensed sample in her song, “Could’ve Been.”

The copyright lawsuit claims that the song uses an unlicensed sample of a 1990 a capella track from the gospel group Take 6. The complaint was filed in a Manhattan Federal Court by six members of Take 6 against H.E.R. – real name Gabriella Sarmiento Wilson. The lawsuit alleges that the song uses “substantial original segments” from their “Come Unto Me” song without permission.

“‘Could’ve Been’ is a song comprised of substantially similar compositional, rhythmic and lyrical elements to ‘Come Unto Me’,” the attorneys for the Take 6 gospel act write. “Defendants have profited greatly from the commercial success of the infringing composition and infringing sound recording.”

H.E.R.’s “Come Unto Me” was released in September 2018 and was a minor hit on her EP I Used to Know Her: The Prelude. It spent one week on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, peaking at #76. It performed better on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs, reaching #39. The song was also nominated for Best R&B Song at the 62nd Grammy Awards.

Meanwhile, the gospel group Take 6’s 1990 album So Much to Say features the song “Come Unto Me.” It spent eight weeks on the Billboard 200 charts and later won the award for Best Contemporary Soul Gospel at the 33rd Grammy Awards.

This isn’t the first time H.E.R. has been sued for copyright infringement on one of her works. Last year, the singer was sued musician Andre Sims for $3 million. The lawsuit came after music producer DJ Camper talked about some of the inspiration and admitted to using Sims’ “Endless Minds” composition for the song.

“I just can’t believe she’s out here performing on TV, thanks to the benefit of my original song brought to her first project, as if they didn’t use my song to get her there,” Sims shared. “So when I see her on TV singing about love and peace, it is amazing as you are a part of a team that unlovingly stole my music, unapologetically so.”

Andre Sims also named H.E.R.’s album distributor Sony Music Entertainment in the lawsuit. “I am truly happy for H.E.R.’s success, but after months of trying to get the rights back to my song, neither she, nor DJ Camper, or Justin Love have even apologized or tried to make this right.”