The internet was ablaze last week with accusations that one of the most famous duo’s in electronic music, Jack Ü (made up of Skrillex and Diplo) copied the signature lick from their collaboration with Justin Bieber, “Sorry”. A lawsuit was filed by the pop artist White Hinterland, alleging that the group took parts of her 2012 hit “Ring The Bell”, specifically a vocal line that is used in the intro of both songs, as well as other parts.
The lawsuit covers two different aspects of copyright. The first is the actual sample, the recorded bit of audio that contains the singer’s voice. White is claiming that the producers used the recording of her voice without permission, which is illegal. A note here for producers, using any sample without permission, even if it is short or insignificant, is not allowed. This includes anything from a full track which you use for a remix all the way down to a kick drum or snare sound. If you didn’t record it, or don’t have permission from the person who did, you technically can’t use it. This may be one of the most broken laws in the music world.
It’s now up to a court to decide how similar they sound, and how significant that melody is to each song. We’ll see what happens.