A Cuban singer and music producer has filed a plagiarism lawsuit against Latin pop stars Shakira and Carlos Vives for allegedly copying his work in the Colombian duo’s award-winning music hit “La Bicicleta .”
Livan Rafael Castellanos, also known as Livam, wants a court to decide whether parts of his song “Yo te quiero tanto “ were plagiarized.
“I have nothing against Shakira, Vives or anybody else,” he told The Associated Press. “It’s the law that needs to decide whether changing a song’s key is enough to make it different.”
Livam, who works in Spain as a composer and producer, said his 4 year old daughter identified her dad’s melody in “La Bicicleta” when the she heard coming from a radio during a holiday last summer.
The musician consulted experts and contacted the labels representing Carlos Vives, Shakira and Andres Eduardo Castro, a producer who appears registered as the author of “La Bicicleta.” No agreements were reached, according to Livam.
A judge in the Spanish capital accepted the lawsuit filed by MDRB Music Publishing, the label holding the copyright for Livam’s work, and has given 20 days for the plaintiffs to present evidence that the song is originally theirs.
SGAE, the main society managing the rights of authors and publishers in Spain, said it had suspended the rights of the song following the association’s usual procedure when one of its members lodges a complaint.
A legal representative for Sony Music Publishing in Spain, which represents Shakira and Castro, said Friday the company couldn’t comment because it had not received notice of the lawsuit.
Representative for Carlos Vives and Shakira did not comment on the matter other than to say the claims are false: “Neither Carlos Vives nor Shakira have received any copy of a lawsuit pertaining to ‘La Bicicleta,’ and as such abstain from commenting on this matter. ‘La Bicicleta’ is a completely original work and they adamantly reject any allegation to the contrary.”
This isn’t the first time Shakira has been accused of copyright infringement. In 2012, songwriter Ramon Arias Vasquez sued Sony/ATV Latin and Sony/ATV Discos, claiming that Shakira’s popular song “Loca,” featured on the 2010 album Sale el Sol, ripped off his 90s tune “Loca con su Tiguere.” However, the suit was eventually thrown out years later after it was discovered that the cassette tape on which Vasquez had allegedly recorded the original song was a fake.
Copyright law in Spain, governed by the Spanish Copyright Act (SCA) of 1996, is arguably similar to intellectual property law in the United States. In order for Shakira and Vives to be held liable for copyright infringement, Livam is going to have to prove that the duo’s song is strikingly similar to his own. Based on that requirement alone, it appears at first glance that the plaintiff doesn’t have much of a case.