A U.S. appeals court has declared that a pair of songwriters accusing Justin Bieber and Usher of plagiarism will have their day in court. The case, which was previously dismissed by a lower court judge, centers on Bieber’s 2010 hit “Somebody To Love,” which plaintiffs Devin Copeland—a.k.a. R&B singer De Rico—and Mareio Overton claim copied several elements of their song of the same name.
Both Bieber and his mentor, Usher—who the song was originally written for, and who released his own version of the track later the same year, with Bieber providing feature vocals—are named as defendants in the case, along with Universal Music Publishing Group and Sony/ATV Music Publishing. Copeland and Overton are seeking $10 million in damages, citing the fact that their song shares “beat pattern, time signature, and similar chords and lyrics” with Bieber’s version. Circuit Judge Pamela Harris apparently agreed, writing in the court’s decision, “After listening to the Copeland song and the Bieber and Usher songs as wholes, we conclude that their choruses are similar enough and also significant enough that a reasonable jury could find the songs intrinsically similar.”
We’ll let you decide whether you agree with that decision after listening to the two tracks, included above. But honestly, even if the case lacked merit, we’d still be happy it was brought to light. After all, can there be any better public service than one that creates the mental image of a trio of venerable judges, nodding along to a Justin Bieber track, listening for the hooks and trying to decide if it’s R&B or dance-tinged electronica? We rest our case.