Image by Duncan Loudon
The Weeknd, Nicolás Jaar, and Frank Dukes have been sued for an undisclosed amount on the basis of copyright infringement. The suit was filed by producers Suniel Fox and Henry Strange who claim that the track Call Out My Name off The Weeknd’s 2018 EP My Dear Melancholy sounds strikingly similar to their song Vibeking.
In the complaint which was filed in a California federal court on September 17, Fox and Strange claim that the songs share the same “atmospheric and melancholic sound,” while both being arranged in a minor key. The complaint goes on to read, “both works are in a 6/8 meter that is less common in popular music. Both works are played at a similar tempo.” Also called into question is the melody of Call Out My Name’s hook, which Fox alleges uses the same scale degrees as Vibeking.
Fox and Strange had initially sent Vibeking to one of The Weeknd’s producers, Eric White in 2015 and had received positive feedback on the track from The Weeknd himself. White had sent the track in hopes of a collaboration, but nothing materialised from this. When The Weeknd’s EP dropped in 2018, Fox and Strange noted that the opening track strikingly resembled Vibeking, yet they had not received or sent any sort of licensing agreement to The Weeknd and his team. Call Out My Name would go on to peak at No.4 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts. Jaar confirmed in a tweet that he was not directly involved in the production of Call Out My Name, but rather that the song uses an interpolation of his track Killing Time from the album Sirens which he had approved for use.
Speaking to Pitchfork, a legal representative for Fox and Strange stated:
“The Weeknd is no stranger to accusations of infringement, and this one is probably the most egregious claim against him and his team to date. Epikker (Suniel and Henry) works with many artists in the industry, and was profoundly disappointed to discover the liberal copying of “Vibeking,” an original Epikker song that was shared with the Weeknd years ago in good faith, in “Call Out My Name.” We look forward to bringing these facts to light and securing reasonable compensation and credit for Epikker.”