Sam Smith, Normani Prevail in ‘Dancing With a Stranger’ Copyright Lawsuit

Sam-Smith-Normani-win-copyright-lawsuit - Credit: Karwai Tang/WireImage; Daniele Venturelli/WireImage
Sam-Smith-Normani-win-copyright-lawsuit - Credit: Karwai Tang/WireImage; Daniele Venturelli/WireImage

Superstar duo Sam Smith and Normani won a copyright infringement lawsuit that claimed their multiplatinum hit “Dancing With a Stranger” stole from a 2015 song by the same name.

A California federal judge agreed to dismiss the case on Wednesday in an order obtained by Rolling Stone. Lawyers for Smith and Normani asked a judge in Sept. 2022 to reject the bulk of an amended copyright infringement lawsuit that alleges the pair’s 2019 multiplatinum hit stole from the 2015 track.

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In March 2022, songwriters Jordan Vincent, Christopher Miranda, and, Rosco Banlaoi, filed the underlying complaint under the group name Sound and Color, LLC. The trio alleged that Smith and Normani, a former member of Fifth Harmony, unfairly enjoyed success with the duet that allegedly ripped off the title, chorus, and composition of their original and protected song previously published on Vincent’s YouTube channel, Spotify, and other streaming services.

The plaintiffs’ attorney, AJ Fluehr, did not immediately respond to Rolling Stone’s request for comment.

In Wednesday’s ruling, Judge Wesley L. Hsu reviewed the plaintiff’s claims that “lyrics, pitch sequence, melodic contour, metric placement of the syllables, rhythm, feel, and structure” represented musical elements that the defendants appropriated. However, Hsu found that “most if not all of the Plaintiff’s claimed similarities” were not protectable by law, pointing out that musical building blocks that belong to the public domain could not be protected. Commonplace elements such as the four-word phrase “dancing with a stranger” were also “unprotectable,” and the ruling pointed out that prior art “contains nearly twenty references to the term ‘dancing with a stranger.'”

The defendants’ previous motion to dismiss the suit also referenced other songs with similar titles including Cyndi Lauper’s 1989 “Dancing With a Stranger” and The Risk’s 2019 “Dancing with a Stranger.”

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