Russian dance music producer Arty alleged that Marshmello lifted the melody of 2018’s “Happier” from one of his 2014 remixes.
The copyright suit was filed in May 2019 after ARTY claimed that Mello had stolen the melody of his 2014 remix of OneRepublic‘s “I Lived,” subsequently recycling it for the 2018 hit single “Happier” with Bastille. Dan Smith, the British band’s frontman, was also named in the copyright suit along with producer Steve Mac.
The decision came down on Thursday in favor of Marshmello, Smith and Mac, with California US District Judge Philip S. Gutierrez ruling that ARTY had no grounds to sue under the terms of his “I Lived” contract with OneRepublic. “I acknowledge and agree that the services rendered (or to be rendered) by Remixer hereunder do not entitle Remixer or me to any ownership or financial interest in the underlying musical composition,” the signed agreement stated.
According to Gutierrez, the “underlying musical composition” in question included not only the original version of “I Lived,” but also ARTY’s remix. This opinion sets the legal precedent that remixers do not own the rights to their work when it comes to copyright infringements.
On the contrary, a five year battle between Marvin Gaye’s estate and Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams for “Blurred Lines” saw ripple effects in the opposite direction after a jury ruled in favor of Gaye’s estate and, as a result, songwriters in general. The controversial decision awarded Gaye’s family millions of dollars in damages for copyright infringement, stating Thicke and Williams had stolen the style and feel of Gaye’s 1977 song “Got To Give It Up.”
Following the ruling, artists including Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran began affording songwriting credits to artists whose past work sounded similar to their new tracks. In his own suit, ARTY was represented by the lawyer for Gaye’s estate in the “Blurred Lines” case, Richard Busch, according to Variety.