May 28, 2016


Casey Dienel aka White Hinterland claims that Justin Bieber’s hit song “Sorry” uses a stolen sample from her song “Ring The Bell”. Listen to both songs below.

Ring The Bell – White Hinterland

Sorry – Justin Bieber

The lawsuit is obviously based on the sampled vocal notes (B flat, C, E flat and F) climbing in the same way, except Bieber’s version has an extra F on the end. I completely understand the comparison and I can see why the plaintiff may feel like her melody was stolen.

Facts that support White Hinterland’s claim:

-The notes are in the same key

-The tempo of both songs are different but close enough to make the samples’ tempo sound similar

-The sample is used for the intro and the body of both songs

-The sample is, or was altered to sound like it was, sung by female

Facts that support Justin Bieber’s claim:

-Dienel’s vocals were not stolen as Sorry’s sample was created from scratch

-The phrasing of the sample is different as Bieber’s version has a repeated F to make a fifth note vs Hinterland’s four

-The musical context in which the two samples were used could not have been more different

-The sample in “Ring The Bell” wasn’t as much of a key component. It appears in the intro and pops up a few more times throughout the track but just as an added layer, unlike Bieber’s sample, which was a defining element of the song.

-The melody in question is so short that it’s impossible to determine that the idea was stolen or just happened to sound similar.

I’m sure these lists can go on forever but I feel like these lawsuits are getting out of hand. I’m an artist too and I understand how easy it is to create something that sounds like something that already exists.

If “Artist A” didn’t willingly take the material from “Artist B”, and it just happens to sounds similar, then “Artist B” should be reasonable and understand that it’s part of making music. No musician “creates” music from scratch. All the great artists that came before us suffered for their songs so that we could have chords and melodies to inspire us today. The world of art is the one place that provides shelter for creative people to express themselves and we shouldn’t exploit one another for the sake of money.

I think Casey Dienel is wrong to sue Bieber’s camp for “Sorry”. She doesn’t own that melody because it’s way too short. She’s probably the 45789th person to think of the melody but the artists before her didn’t have the means of releasing their music on the same scale, so White Hinterland took the credit. It’s hypocritical for an artist to sue someone for doing something they probably do everyday.

The fact is: Every melody you think you manifested from thin air was already invented by someone else at some point on this planet. What makes it your own is how you interpret that melody through your own music.

Don’t get me wrong, it is possible to steal music. Just look at what J-Lo did to The Beatnuts…

What Out Now – The Beatnuts

…..aaaaand Jenny From The Block by Beatnuts *cough* I mean J-Lo

So there is a time to stand up for your rights as an artist but White Hinterland is not doing that. I genuinely think that she feels taken advantage of and I feel bad that she does but I can’t agree with what she’s doing. No one can claim ownership of such a small melody. The lawsuit is petty and a good example of what’s wrong with the business side of the music industry.

This article isn’t an attack on Casey Dienel but a lot of the lawsuits being filed in the music industry. It’s becoming a culture to sue whenever there’s an opportunity instead of when there’s real injustice. White Hinterland will probably get paid off and the business of “finding hit songs that have elements that are similar to yours and suing them” will continue to grow.

#indiepop #justinbieber #whitehinterland #musicheadlines

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