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 Dua Lipa’s Levitation Litigation
Intellectual property & technology

Dua Lipa’s Levitation Litigation



There exists a clear pattern in the world of musical copyright: just as one high-profile dispute is resolved, another surfaces to seize the spotlight.

In our last deep dive into musical copyright we analysed the tumultuous journey charted from the US verdict relating to Robin Thicke’s hit “Blurred Lines” through to the accusations of infringement levelled against Ed Sheeran which played out in courts on both sides of the Atlantic earlier this year. The latter saga seemed to have concluded with a resounding double victory for the British singer-songwriter; however, the plaintiffs in the US case have now filed a notice of appeal and as such this dispute looks set to rumble on into the future.

Now, another prominent British artist, Dua Lipa, finds herself entangled in a federal lawsuit relating to her song “Levitating.” This legal battle was initiated by musician Bosko Kante in Los Angeles and it marks the third lawsuit targeting the chart-topping hit since its 2020 release, previous suits having been filed in California and New York. Kante’s latest claim seeks more than $20 million in damages, citing breaches of contract and copyright infringement, particularly concerning three remixes of the song:

  • the Blessed Madonna Remix by DJ the Blessed Madonna;
  • the “DaBaby Remix” featuring rapper DaBaby; and
  • the “AMA Remix”, specifically created for the American Music Awards.

Central to Kante’s case is the employment of the ElectroSpit talk box—of which he is the inventor—in the original version of “Levitating”. He claims that Lipa’s co-defendant, Stephen Kozmeniuk, approached him in 2019 regarding the incorporation of his talk box into the song. Subsequently, a verbal agreement was reached through which Kozmeniuk was granted a licence to use the talk box recording. In exchange, Kante would receive a fixed payment and a share of neighbouring rights. Crucially, Kante contends that this agreement explicitly restricted use of the talk box recording to the original mix of “Levitating”. The lawsuit alleges that this agreement was violated by the recording’s inclusion in the aforementioned remixes. Furthermore, certain segments of the talk box recording which were unused in the original mix were then integrated into the remixes.

Significantly, Kante is credited as a collaborator for “Levitating,” setting this case apart from the other lawsuits concerning the same song and many of the other cases mentioned in our previous article on this subject. Consequently, Kante will not need to overcome the often substantial hurdle of establishing that the defendants had access to the work at hand. It should be noted that this element was pivotal in the California case against Lipa’s song, which was dismissed in June. However, Kante will likely encounter some difficulty in proving the precise terms of his verbal agreement, particularly as regards the extent to which he authorised the use of his recording and whether the inclusion of portions in the remixes was explicitly forbidden by the agreement.

Lipa and her co-defendants will likely assert that the manner in which Kante orally licensed use of the talk box recording also encompassed its use in remixes of the song, or alternatively, that Kante’s contribution amounted to that of a mere performer rather than a co-author of the work. If he is found to be the former, Kante will find himself with a substantially more limited set of rights in relation to the song relative to those of an author.

Regardless of the outcome of Kante’s lawsuit, the case emphasises the importance of written agreements when collaborating on musical compositions and recordings. Such agreements should delineate precisely who owns what, and what each party will get in return for their creative input. In theory at least, this practice should go some way in averting unnecessary litigation and the often-exorbitant costs that are associated with it.


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