Singer Casey Daniel accused Skrillex and Justin Bieber of using a sample of her voice without permission, but the targets of her lawsuit seem to have a good defense: the sample was of another singer entirely, and Skrillex posted video showing how he produced it.
Daniel’s 2014 song Ring The Bell opens with a distinctive whooping cry from Daniel, repeated throughout:
You can hear it—according to Daniel—in Bieber’s Skrillex-produced 2015 megahit Sorry:
Here’s Daniel, on Facebook:
Like most artists that sample music, Bieber could have licensed my song for use in “Sorry.” But he chose not to contact me. After the release of “Sorry,” my lawyers sent Bieber a letter regarding the infringement, but Bieber’s team again chose to ignore me. I offered Bieber’s team an opportunity to have a private dialogue about the infringement, but they refused to even acknowledge my claim, despite the obviousness of the sample. Justin Bieber is the world’s biggest artist, and I’m sure that he and his team will launch a full attack against me. But, in the end, I was left with no other option. I believe I have an obligation to stand up for my music and art.
In response, though, Skrillex posted a video that seems to make obvious that the sample was in fact of a session singer.
— SKRILLEX (@Skrillex) May 27, 2016
“SORRY but we didn’t steal this,” Skrillex tweeted, with a prayer emoji. Bieber retweeted it, adding “#wedontsteal”.
If it looks like Daniel’s made a fool of herself, don’t count her out just yet. EDM musicians Deadmau5 and Diplo publicly supported her claim, with the former tweeting that he hoped she “bleeds em good.”
Things might not be as clear cut as Skrillex’s video makes at seem, with pundits pointing to the recent Marvin Gaye v. Robin Thicke case, where a jury found that merely emulating another artist’s sound can pass muster as copyright infringement. That case is being appealed; settlements are much, much cheaper.