Lawyers for Sam Smith and Normani have fired back at a copyright infringement suit that claims the pair’s 2019 hit, “Dancing With a Stranger,” ripped off a 2015 song of the same name.
According to new court docs filed on Monday, July 25, Smith and Normani’s lawyers called the original suit — filed back in March by songwriters Jordan Vincent, Christopher Miranda, and Rosco Banlaoi under the name Sound and Color, LLC — “rambling, repetitive… and there are fundamental problems with the underlying allegation.” They’ve also asked the judge overseeing the case to dismiss various aspects of Sound and Color’s original suit, such as a claim for statutory damages should Smith and Normani be found liable.
The lawyers for the two artists appeared confident that the 2019 “Dancing With a Stranger” does not infringe on the 2015 “Dancing with a Stranger,” saying the original claim “relies on hyperbole.” It even claims that Sound and Color’s own “allegations are repudiated by the claimed expert report” included in their original lawsuit.
“For example, that report includes what it describes as a transcription of the relevant music transposed to the same key and which shows eight notes in Dancing with a Stranger and nine notes in Plaintiff’s song,” the filing reads. “Even as transcribed by Plaintiff’s expert, only the first and sixth notes are the same. Given that an uninterrupted sequence of four notes is not protected by copyright, two non-contiguous notes cannot be protected.”
Additionally, Smith and Normani’s lawyers argue that the musicologist’s report “acknowledges the melodies [of the two songs] are different and instead claims similarity in ‘melodic contour’ and rhythm. However, melodic contour, or the shape of a melody, is too abstract to protect by copyright, and the claimed similar rhythm is largely repeated eight notes, which also is not protected.”
In a statement shared with Rolling Stone, lawyers for Sound and Color, Francis Alexander LLC, said, “The audio and video comparisons in the complaint make it abundantly clear that the Defendants have a serious problem. This is a technical motion that will have little effect on the overall case as it moves forward to discovery and trial.”