Federal Judge Questions Whether Dua Lipa, Other ‘Levitating’ Creators Had Access to Allegedly Infringed Track

Dua Lipa ticketing crash
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Dua Lipa ticketing crash
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Photo Credit: Justin Higuchi / CC by 2.0

Back in March of 2022, Florida-based Artikal Sound System sued Dua Lipa for allegedly lifting from its work to create “Levitating.” Now, a federal judge has dismissed the complaint with leave to amend.

Judge Sunshine Sykes just recently dismissed Artikal Sound System’s suit, which the band filed specifically against Dua Lipa and Warner Records as well as “Levitating” songwriters Clarence Coffee Jr., Sarah Hudson, and Stephen Kozmeniuk (who’s also credited as a producer).

In brief, the plaintiffs maintain that the defendants borrowed from 2017’s “Live Your Life” to create the noted Dua Lipa release, which has racked up north of two billion total Spotify streams. In the leadup to late August of 2018, when “Levitating” was penned and recorded, Artikal Sound claims it “played in numerous venues, principally in Florida.”

And these shows are said to have featured renditions of “Live Your Life,” which, along with coverage in one of Jamaica’s “leading newspapers,” an appearance in a spot for Delray Beach, Florida’s “Beerfest 2018,” and streaming-service availability, afforded the defendants access to the work, according to Artikal Sound.

Additionally, the veteran act in its first amended complaint highlighted an alleged connection between Artikal Sound member Chris Cope and songwriter Ali Tamposi, who co-wrote “Break My Heart” on Dua Lipa’s Future Nostalgia. (The Miami-based production team of the aforementioned Clarence Coffee Jr., The Monsters & Strangerz, produced the track.)

“One of the writers of ‘Break My Heart,’ Ali Tamposi, was taught guitar by plaintiff Chris Cope’s brother-in-law,” Artikal Sound and its legal team wrote. “Plaintiff Chris Cope has for years been a Facebook friend of Ali Tamposi and Plaintiff Cope has regularly posted news about Artikal on his Facebook page.”

As initially outlined, though, the presiding judge has rejected these arguments and dismissed the action with leave to amend.

Regarding the claims that the defendants had listened to “Live Your Life” live, on CD, and/or on streaming services before creating “Levitating,” the court described the associated arguments as “either too generic or too insubstantial to show access via widespread dissemination.”

“These allegations are not, either independently or taken together, enough to plead wide dissemination,” Judge Sykes explained. “Plaintiffs’ failure to specify how frequently they performed ‘Live Your Life’ publicly during the specified period, where these performances took place, and the size of the venues and/or audiences precludes the Court from finding that Plaintiffs’ live performances of the song plausibly contributed to its saturation of markets in which Defendants would have encountered it.”

In terms of the above-outlined connection involving Cope and Tamposi, the judge communicated the link bears “little connection to either of the two musical compositions at issue here” and doesn’t “suggest a reasonable likelihood that Defendants actually encountered Plaintiffs’ song during the relevant time period.”

Finally, the judge rejected the defendants’ request to transfer the case to New York, where Dua Lipa is facing another suit (submitted this time by Larball Music Publishing and unrelated to “Live Your Life”). Artikal Sound now has until Friday, June 16th to file an amended complaint, with the defendants’ responsive-pleading deadline set for Friday the 30th.

Earlier in June, the family of “Let’s Get It On” co-writer Ed Townsend moved to appeal the verdict handed down in a much-publicized infringement battle over Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud.” Meanwhile, 50 Cent and others were last month named in a fresh copyright complaint centering on works including “Candy Shop.”