Business News Labels & Publishers Legal

Sony/ATV faces damages bill over indirect infringement in Shakira song

By | Published on Friday 22 August 2014


Sony/ATV is facing a damages payment after a plagiarism trial centring on 2010 Shakira track ‘Loca’.

The Shakira track borrowed from a song called ‘Loca Con Su Tiguera’ by Eduardo Edwin Bello Pou, aka El Cata, from the Dominican Republic. But that was all fine, Bello was co-credited as a songwriter on the Shakira hit and he appeared on the track. The Dominican Republic songwriter said the original song was inspired by his relationship with his ex-wife.

However, according to The Hollywood Reporter, Bello was subsequently accused of having nicked the original track, or much of it, from another Dominican Republic songwriter called Ramon ‘Arias’ Vasquez, who claimed to have written the song in the mid-1990s inspired by his sister’s relationship with a ‘street-tough’ boyfriend.

Arias added that he had met with Bello eight years ago and shared two of his songs with him, including ‘Loca Con Su Tiguera’. Arias claimed Bello liked the song and asked to record it. But when he later did just that, and won some fame off the back of it, Bello then claimed that he had written the song himself. The collaboration with Shakira duly followed.

A music company called Mayimba Music acquired the rights in Arias’ song, and it was that firm which sued the various Sony companies involved in the Shakira hit, the music major’s label having released the track, and Sony/ATV’s Miama division having published the songstresses rework of ‘Loca Con Su Tiguera’. Though in the end the former was removed as a defendant.

Bello denied outright Arias’s allegations, claiming ‘Loca Con Su Tiguera’ was his song. But a US judge decided the latter made a much more credible case, partly because of the existence of a cassette of the song in Arias’s hands from 1998, and partly because of inconsistencies in Bello’s story inside and outside of court. The judge then deemed the Arias and Bello songs to be sufficiently similar for there to be copyright infringement.

The Shakira song therefore indirectly infringed Arias’s original, resulting in liability for Sony/ATV. Whether the publisher will appeal remains to be seen, though another court hearing will now be scheduled to consider damages.