Copyright Infringement Lawsuit Filed Against Justin Bieber and Dan + Shay for “10,000 Hours”

A copyright infringement lawsuit was filed against music artists Justin Bieber and Dan + Shay in the U.S. District Court, Central District of California, on Thursday, April 21, 2022. In the lawsuit, Melomega Music alleges that Bieber and Dan + Shay stole the chorus, verse, and hook of “The First Time Baby Is A Holiday,” a song written over forty years ago.

Bieber and Dan + Shay released the song “10,000 Hours” with an accompanying music video on October 4, 2019. The artists co-wrote the song with Jessie Jo Dillon, Jordan Reynolds, and Jason “Poo Bear” Boyd. The song was a multi-week number 1 hit, reaching the top five on Billboard’s Hot 100 list. “10,000 Hours” is the sixth song ever to top all four Billboard country song charts at the same time. The song went quadruple platinum in 2021 and has nearly two billion global streams to date. In 2021, the song won the “Best Country Duo/Group Performance” Grammy Award.

The music and lyrics for Melomega’s song “The First Time Baby Is A Holiday” were authored by Palmer Rakes and Frank Fioravanti, respectively, over forty years ago. Melomega registered the musical composition with the U.S. Copyright Office in 1980. Melomega recorded and released the song in September 2014. The song was re-released on three different albums in 2017 and 2019.

The complaint alleges that the melodies and chorus of the two songs “are practically identical.” To support the copyright infringement claim, Melomega proffer “an objective, scientific, empirical musical analysis” from Dr. Alexander Stewart, a musicologist. In his report, Dr. Stewart concludes that the songs are practically the same and he “consider[s] it almost impossible that 10,000 Hours was created independently from First Time Baby.” Dr. Stewart “compared the melodic themes, pitch, rhythm, length, phrasing, hook, lyrics and metric placement of these core sections of the songs and found them to be practically identical.” Specifically, Dr. Stewart found that the songs match as high as 83% with regard to melodic components, 72% in pitch sequence, and nearly 90% on rhythm and metric placement.

The complaint states that “[t]he fact that the core expression of the two songs is nearly identical and strikingly similar obviates the need to establish access, as such is inferred.” The complaint further states that Bieber and Dan + Shay copied the song, reproduced, distributed, displayed, publicly performed, and otherwise exploited Melomega’s song without authorization, without giving credit to Rakes or Fioravanti, or a copyright interest to Melomega. “These acts were willful, knowing, and malicious and perpetrated without regard to Melomega’s rights.”

As a cause of action, the complaint states direct, contributory, and vicarious copyright infringement in violation of the Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. §§ 101 et seq. The complaint requests relief in the form of (1) a permanent injunction prohibiting defendants “from directly or indirectly infringing, or causing, enabling, facilitating, encouraging, promoting, inducing, and/or participating in the infringement of” Melomega’s rights; (2) an order directing defendants to properly credit Melomega and the song’s authors “on any awards, accolades, events of prestige and/or other public recognition;” (3) actual damages and profits; (4) statutory damages; (5) attorneys’ fees; and (6) pre-judgment and post-judgment interest.

Additional Reading

Dan + Shay, Justin Bieber sued for ‘10,000 Hours’ copyright infringement. Here are the details., Tennessean (April 22, 2022)

International Manufacturing Concepts Inc. v. Justin Bieber et al (Case No. 2:2022cv02650)

Complaint in International Manufacturing Concepts Inc. v. Justin Bieber et al

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