Readers of On Your Case know of my deep affection for Justin Bieber — not his music, necessarily, but his endless, and instructive, run ins with the law. The intersection of his immense stardom and his … sometimes ill-considered decisions have made him almost a one-young-man teaching tool for topics that range from criminal behavior to copyright.

On that latter topic, Reuters reports that a federal appeals court has revived a $10 million lawsuit against Biebs and Usher that alleges their song, “Somebody to Love,” copied parts of the melody, rhythm and chorus of a composition written by two much-less-famous composers, Devin Copeland, an R&B singer known as De Rico, and his songwriting partner Mareio Overton.

Copyright fights over music are notoriously tricky — how much of a song’s resemblance to another is happenstance? How much is deliberate copying? We’ll see if Usher and the Biebs can successfully defend their work against this fairly common claim.



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