A Cuban singer and music producer has filed a plagiarism lawsuit against pop stars Shakira and Carlos Vives for allegedly copying his work in the Colombian duo’s award-winning hit La Bicicleta.
Livan Rafael Castellanos, also known as Livam, said he wants a court to decide whether parts of his 1997 song Yo Te Quiero Tanto were plagiarised in the vallenato-style hit that won two of the three biggest Grammy Latino awards in 2016, song and record of the year.
“I have nothing against Shakira, Vives or anybody else,” he told The Associated Press.
“It’s the law that needs to decide whether changing a song’s key is enough to make it different.”
The lyrics in Livam’s original chorus are “I love you, I love you so much” while Vives and Shakira sing “I’m dreaming and I love you so much” with a rhythm and melody that the musician argues are similar.
His complaint notes that both songs use accordions.
Livam, who works in Madrid as a composer and producer, said his three year-old daughter identified her father’s melody in La Bicicleta when the family heard the hit coming from a radio during a beach holiday last summer.
The musician consulted musical experts and contacted the labels representing Carlos Vives, Shakira and Andres Eduardo Castro, a producer who appears registered as the author of La Bicicleta.
No agreements were reached, according to Livam.
A judge in the Spanish capital accepted the lawsuit filed by MDRB Music Publishing, the label holding the copyright for Livam’s work, and has given 20 days for the plaintiffs to present further evidence, judicial authorities said.
SGAE, the main society managing the rights of authors and publishers in Spain, said it had suspended the rights of the song following the association’s usual procedure when one of its members lodges a complaint.
A legal representative for Sony ATV Music Publishing in Spain, which represents Shakira and Castro, said on Friday the company could not comment because it had not received notice of the lawsuit.
La Bicicleta – which means The Bike in English – was also nominated last month by the Billboard Awards as best 2016 Hot Latin Song.
Livam said he is happy for the success of the hit no matter what the judge eventually rules about whether his creation was part of the hit or not.
“I’m just a musician, but I don’t want to be robbed,” he said.