Justin Bieber and Skrillex are being sued over ‘Sorry’

The issue of plagiarism has carried through the course of pop music, with a grey area between inspiration and plain ripoff becoming a factor from George Harrison’s ‘My Sweet Lord’ through to the huge recent case of Robin Thicke (remember that guy? Us neither!) with ‘Blurred Lines’. Now another big-name act has been called out for improper musical appropriation.

Released last year, ‘Sorry’ went on to become one of Justin Bieber’s biggest ever hits. The track was co-written by Bieber and Skrillex (with other writers Julia Michaels, Justin Tranter and Michael Tucker). Now artist White Hinterland (aka Casey Dienel) is claiming that the distinctive opening hook on the track was lifted from her own release ‘Ring the Bell’. Dienel is after monetary compensation and calling for the Canadian megastar to cease performing the song live.

In a Facebook post this morning, Dienel released the following statement:

As many of you that follow my career and work have already recognized, Justin Bieber’s song “Sorry” copies the vocal riff prominently featured in my song “Ring the Bell.” The writers, producers, and performers of “Sorry” did not obtain a license for this exploitation of my work, nor did they obtain or seek my permission. Yesterday afternoon, I filed a lawsuit for copyright infringement against Justin Bieber and the other responsible parties.

After this post, I intend to leave the subject matter of the lawsuit in the hands of my lawyers and the legal system. However, because I do not take the act of suing lightly, I want to take this opportunity to briefly explain my decision to those of you who are connected to me through family, friendship, and music.

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, which Rolling Stone listed as one of its “favorite songs, albums, and videos.” 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.

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.

Thank you in advance for your support.

Casey Dienel (White Hinterland)

Compare the tracks below: