Justin Bieber and Skrillex Face Copyright Infringement Lawsuit Over 'Sorry' Hook

by Jackie Willis 9:02 AM PDT, May 27, 2016
Playing Justin Bieber and Skrillex Face Copyright Infringement Lawsuit Over 'Sorry' Hook

One singer-songwriter is looking for more than an apology from Justin Bieber.

Casey Dienel, whose stage name is White Hinterland, has filed a lawsuit for copyright infringement against the pop star and his collaborator Skrillex, claiming that their hit "Sorry" uses a riff from her 2014 track, "Ring the Bell."

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In legal documents obtained by ET, the suit argues that the riff is "crucial to both" songs, alleging that the "the specific and unique characteristics of the female vocal riff of both 'Ring the Bell' and the infringing 'Sorry' are identical."

The plaintiff is asking for an award of damages, and acknowledgment that the riff was used without permission. She's also wants an injunction preventing further infringement of "Ring the Bell" copyrights.

Dienel took to Facebook on Thursday to explain why she decided to sue. "Creating original and unique music is my life’s passion, but it is challenging and time consuming. I poured my blood, sweat, and tears into writing and producing 'Ring the Bell,' and I am proud of the finished product," she explained. "Throughout my career, I have worked very hard to preserve my independence and creative control, thus it came as a shock to hear my work used and exploited without permission."

The musician also wrote that she had reached out to Bieber's people before filing the lawsuit. "Like most artists that sample music, Bieber could have licensed my song for use in 'Sorry.' But he chose not to contact me," she continued. "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."

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Dienel concluded, "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."

ET has reached out to Bieber and Skrillex's reps for comment.

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"Sorry" was a wildly successful song for Bieber, topping the charts in 13 countries. The 22-year-old singer's track spent seven weeks at No. 1 on the Canadian Hot 100 and three weeks at No. 1 on the US Billboard Hot 100.

When ET spoke to Bieber last November about his Purpose album, which includes the "Sorry" track, he touted that this was the most personal music he's ever done. "I just said, 'What am I going through? What am I feeling?' and basically just poured my heart out into this album and made something real," he said. "I've been having a lot of cries lately -- good cries, bad cries, just all around being emotional."