Casey Dienel, an indie artist who records under the moniker White Hinterland, has filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Justin Bieber, alleging that the singer’s hit “Sorry” borrows heavily from her 2014 track “Ring the Bell.”
“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,'” Dienel wrote on Facebook. “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.”
The lawsuit, which names Bieber as well as producer Skrillex, focuses on the opening vocal melody of both tracks. “Like most artists that sample music, Bieber could have licensed my song for use in ‘Sorry.’ But he chose not to contact me,” Dienel continued. “After the release of ‘Sorry,’ my lawyers sent Bieber a letter regarding the infringement, but Bieber’s team again chose to ignore me.” Dienel added that she was left with “no other option” but to file a lawsuit in order to “stand up for my music and art.”
The suit lists the similarities between “Sorry” and “Ring the Bell.” According to TMZ, the lawsuit accuses “Sorry” of stealing eight seconds of “Ring the Bell” and looping it six times, and notes that both songs are constructed around keyboard synthesizers, samples, synth bass, drums and percussion. “The identical and/or striking similarity of ‘Sorry’ to Plaintiff’s song ‘Ring the Bell’ surpasses the realm of generic coincidence and independent creation,” the lawsuit states.
Bieber and Skrillex have not responded publicly to White Hinterland’s lawsuit. It’s unclear how much Dienel is seeking in the suit.
“Creating original and unique music is my life’s passion, but it is challenging and time-consuming,” Dienel wrote. “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.”
Compare the opening of both tracks below: