The Weeknd and "Call Out My Name" Collaborators Sued for Copyright Infringement
The lawsuit was filed by electro-house duo Epikker for the song's similarities to their 2015 track "Vibeking"
Published Sep 22, 2021The Weeknd has been accused of plagiarism for his 2018 My Dear Melancholy, single "Call Out My Name."
Producers Suniel Fox and Henry Strange — who make up the electro-house duo Epikker — have claimed that elements of the track were lifted directly from their 2015 song "Vibeking."
Tesfaye's collaborators Nicolas Jaar and Frank Dukes are also implicated in the lawsuit (alongside their publishers and Universal Music Group), wherein Fox and Strange allege that the songs "contain quantitatively and qualitatively similar material in their respective lead guitar and vocal hooks, including melodic, harmonic and rhythmic elements distinctive to 'Vibeking.'"
According to the duo, they sent "Vibeking" to PNDA — one of the Weeknd's engineers — in April 2015. By April 29, PNDA had received an email reply regarding the track from Tesfaye that said "shit's fiiiire." Later, on May 15, the engineer confirmed to one of the songwriters (Strange) that Tesfaye had listened to the track and had said: "it's fire."
Then, PNDA wrote to Strange, saying: "Just gonna tell [Tesfaye] that our production team wrote the track. Cool? Or u [sic] have another idea? Just don't wanna say 'hey, [Strange] wrote this,' when he doesn't know u [sic]."
"[Tesfaye] knows me," Strange wrote back. "Say both: [Strange] with Ponytail you met on [sic] Drake tour, who is part of our production team."
After this correspondence, Strange and Fox apparently never received word from Tesfaye's team about any sort of license or agreement to use the idea prior to its appearance on "Call Out My Name" — the lead single from the musician's 2018 EP My Dear Melancholy,.
"Epikker [Suniel and Henry] works with many artists in the industry and was profoundly disappointed when the Weeknd and his team copied 'Vibeking', an original Epikker song that was shared with them years ago in good faith," the duo's lawyer Chris Ghazarian told Billboard. "I look forward to working with Doniger Burroughs to secure reasonable compensation and credit for Epikker in connection with 'Call Out My Name.'"
The Weeknd tune has accumulated $1.06 million USD in royalties from US sales alone [via Billboard], so it's not surprising that Fox and Strange are looking to get in on it. "Vibeking" isn't currently available online for us to listen to and compare — which is a little shady, admittedly. Let the court of public opinion offer their ruling, Epikker!
In the meantime, you can refresh your memory on Tesfaye's 2018 hit below.
This is hardly the Weeknd's first copyright infringement lawsuit. Last year, Yeasayer took legal action against Tesfaye and Kendrick Lamar's "Pray for Me" sample, though they later dropped the charges. In 2019, the Canadian superstar was also sued for plagiarism — accused of ripping off a UK trio's song on 2016 Starboy track "A Lonely Night."
If you're ready to become a true expert in the matter, Drake and the Weeknd will be examined in a new course at Toronto's Ryerson University. Tesfaye's also been teasing a potential collaboration with Swedish House Mafia.