Back in September of 2021, The Weeknd was named in a copyright infringement lawsuit over 2018’s “Call Out My Name.” Now, approximately 18 months later, the involved parties have settled.
The “settlement in principle” just recently came to light in an official notice, which makes clear that the legal teams at hand are “still in the process of formalizing, executing, and consummating that settlement.” Of course, neither The Weeknd nor the plaintiffs (musicians Suniel Fox and Henry Strange) appeared to have commented publicly on the matter at the time of this writing.
But the underlying courtroom confrontation initiated after Fox and Strange in 2015 wrote and recorded a track entitled “Vibeking,” according to the original complaint. The duo further claimed to have sent the song to The Weeknd’s “DJ and playback engineer,” PNDA (real name Eric White), that same year.
In brief, PNDA was meant to forward the effort to The Weeknd, per the suit from Fox and Strange, who said that they’d “sent other original compositions and sound recordings to THE WEEKND for consideration via PNDA” in the past.
According to text messages cited in the action, PNDA indicated that The Weeknd had enjoyed “Vibeking.” Following an 18-month gap in the conversation, though, PNDA allegedly wrote to Strange: “I sent [THE WEEKND] that track u made a while ago. He listened and liked it. But nothing ever happened.”
Moreover, PNDA then suggested in a subsequent text that he would tell The Weeknd “that our production team wrote the track,” per the complaint. “Cool? Or u have another idea? Just don’t wanna say ‘hey, [STRANGE] wrote this’ when he doesn’t know u.”
The plaintiff creator insisted that The Weeknd did in fact know who he and Fox were, according to the suit, but the talks nevertheless failed to produce a “license or agreement permitting” the use of “Vibeking.”
Strange and Fox registered the work with the Copyright Office (SR0000872910) and ultimately released it around April of 2017, the original action communicated. However, the track doesn’t seem to be live on streaming services at present.
In any event, Strange and Fox maintained in the initial filing that “Call Out My Name” and “Vibeking” contained “quantitatively and qualitatively similar material in their respective lead guitar and vocal hooks, including melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic elements.”
“Both works are in a minor key. Both works are in a 6/8 meter that is less common in popular music,” Strange and Fox wrote. “Both works are played at a similar tempo. And both works use features of electronica, ambience, pop, hip-hop, rock, and R&B to achieve a particular atmospheric and melancholic sound.”
Last month, not long after “Blinding Lights” emerged as the most-streamed song on Spotify, The Weeknd became the first artist to reach 100 million monthly listeners on the platform. Meanwhile, Ed Sheeran remains embroiled in multiple copyright battles, while Keith Richards and Mick Jagger were accused of infringement in “Living in a Ghost Town” (2020) about one week ago.