Indie musician Casey Dienel (aka White Hinterland) is suing Justin Bieber, Skrillex, and the team of co-writers behind Bieber's 2015 mega-hit "Sorry" over the song's resemblance to Dienel's "Ring the Bell," released in 2014 as part of her album Baby. TMZ reported on the lawsuit this afternoon, noting that Dienel's issue with "Sorry" is rooted in the "unique characteristics of the female vocal riff" that opens "Ring the Bell." (You can hear said vocal riff cycling through the first 10 seconds of "Ring the Bell," and a similar snippet of melody is repeated throughout "Sorry.")
The relative prominence of Dienel's music makes the lawsuit a little more interesting than similar suits levied by totally obscure musicians. "Ring the Bell" has tens of thousands of plays on YouTube and SoundCloud and over half a million on Spotify, and its parent album Baby was widely reviewed upon its release two years ago. (She's also appeared on The Verge before in my weekly jams column thanks to last fall's single "Chill and Natural.") In any case, the resemblance is pretty clear. Dienel initially asked Bieber to stop using the sample in December; after being ignored, she's looking for financial compensation and for him to stop playing the song entirely. That may be a tough ask considering it's racked up billions of listens around the world.
Dienel expounded on her decision to pursue legal action in a Facebook post this afternoon. "Creating original and unique music is my life's passion, but it is challenging and time consuming," wrote Dienel. "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... 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."
Update May 26th, 5:30PM ET: Updated to include Dienel's Facebook statement.