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Task: Storytelling in the digital age

Topic: plagiarism

Recycled lines? Shakira faces plagiarism claim over hit song La Bicicleta

Colombian singers Shakira and Carlos Vives have been accused in a Spanish court of copying the award-winning song from a Cuban singer

Singers Shakira and Carlos Vives perform in Leticia, Colombia. Photograph: William Fernando Martinez/AP

The Colombian singers Shakira and Carlos Vives have been accused of copying part of their award-winning hit La Bicicleta from a 20-year-old song by a Cuban singer, according to a complaint filed with a Spanish court.

La Bicicleta (The Bicycle), a catchy fusion of reggaeton, cumbia and vallenato, won the duo two Latin Grammys last year – best song and best record.

But, according to the complaint filed with a commercial court in Madrid on behalf of Liván Rafael Castellanos – known as Livam – it borrows parts of his 1997 song Yo Te Quiero Tanto (I Love You So Much).

The music publisher MDRB, which lodged the complaint on Livam’s behalf, claims there are similarities between the melody and lyrics of his song and those of La Bicicleta.

The chorus of Livam’s song is, “yo te quiero, yo te quiero tanto” (I love you, I love you so much), while Shakira and Vives sing “que te sueño y que te quiero tanto” (I dream of you and love you so much).

A spokesman for the court told Agence France-Presse the complaint was against Vives and Shakira – who lives in Spain – as well as producer Andres Castro and Sony Music. Shakira’s spokespeople declined to comment when contacted by AFP.

I have nothing against Shakira, Vives or anybody else,” Livam told Associated Press. “It’s the law that needs to decide whether changing a song’s key is enough to make it different.”

Livam, who works in Madrid as a composer and producer, said his three-year-old daughter identified her dad’s melody in La Bicicleta when the family heard the hit on a radio during a beach holiday last summer.

A legal representative for Sony ATV Music Publishing in Spain, which represents Shakira and Castro, said the company couldn’t comment as it had not received notice of the lawsuit.

SGAE, the main society managing the rights of authors and publishers in Spain, said it had suspended the rights of the song following the association’s usual procedure when two of its members lodge a complaint.

This is not the first time Shakira has faced allegations of plagiarism.

In 2012, the Dominican singer and composer Ramón Arias Vásquez – known as Arias – accused the Colombian superstar of copying one of his compositions in her 2010 hit Loca.

Although a US judge initially ruled that Shakira’s song was indirectly copied from Arias’ song, he later dismissed the copyright infringement case on the grounds that Arias had lied to the court and that the cassette tape on which he had based his claims was a fake.

Shakira, who has released 10 studio albums, is a goodwill ambassador for the UN children’s agency Unicef and runs her own charitable foundation called Pies Descalzos (Barefoot), which aims to help poor and displaced children in Colombia.

Summary article

The Article is about a man named Livan Rafael Castellanos ‘Livam’, a Cuban singer, accusing Colombian singers Shakira and Carlos Vives of copying part of their award-winning het La Bicicleta from his 20-year-old song. The song won two Grammys last year. According to a commercial court in Madrid, Spain, it shows simularities between the melody and lyrics of the 1997 song Yo Te Quiero Tanto. The complaint is against Vives and Shakira, producer Andes Castro ad Sony Music. “I have nothing against Shakira, Vives or anybody else. It’s the law taht needs to decide wether changing songs key is enough to make a different.” were the Words of Livam. According to him, his daughter heard the simularities between the two songs. It’s not the first time that Shakira is accused of plagirism, in 2012 she was accused by the Dominican singer Ramon Aris Vasquez of coppying part of his song and using it in her song Loca.But te case was later on dismissed. 

Jones, S. (03.03.2017). Recycled lines? Shakira faces plagiarism claim over hit song La Bicicleta. The Guardian.

Video fragment

This video tries to explain what plagiarism is and which sorts of plagiarism exist. In their exact words, they state plagiarism as “using someone else’s work, either their words or ideas, without giving them credit”. But there are also other sorts of plagiarism like failing to put borrowed language in quotaton marks, failing to put summaries and paraphrases in your own words, recycling your own work and submitting it as if it was new, copying other people’s work, even with their permission, to use as your own, copying something like a graph or picture and pretending it’s your own work, having someone doing your work or paying someone to do your work and saying it’s you own. You can avoid plagiarism by using in-text citations, by using quotation marks around borrowed words and phrases, by planning ahead and not leaving things to the last minute and most imortant, by doing your own work and giving credit where it is due!

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