Justin Bieber sued over riff in smash hit 'Sorry'

Another artist says Bieber stole a vocal riff which she used on her own song a year earlier.

FILE: Justin Bieber. Picture: AFP.

TORONTO - Canadian pop star Justin Bieber and the co-writers of his 2015 smash hit Sorry are being sued for allegedly stealing a vocal riff from another artist who said she used it on her own song a year earlier.

In a complaint made public on Thursday, Casey Dienel, an indie artist who performs under the name White Hinterland, accused Bieber of infringing her copyright to the song _Ring the Bell _by using a "virtually identical" riff without permission.

Among the other defendants are the producer Skrillex and Vivendi's Universal Music Group. The lawsuit was filed in the US District Court in Nashville.

Spokespeople for Bieber, Skrillex and Universal had no immediate comment or did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Dienel said Sorry, which appears on Bieber's album Purpose and has more than 1.42 billion YouTube views, adopted the "specific and unique characteristics of the female vocal riff" from her song, sampling it for the first eight seconds of Sorry and several times thereafter.

She said even The New York Times magazine noted the riff's distinctiveness, when it praised Bieber's song for its "cooing arpeggio that feels like a gentle breeze on your brain" in a 13 March article titled 25 Songs That Tell Us Where Music Is Going. Bieber's song ranked number one.

Dienel also said she reached out to Bieber to discuss a resolution, but he "ignored" her claims and refused to talk.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages, including from profits generated by Sorry. Dienel's _Ring the Bell _appeared on White Hinterland's album Baby.

It is common for well-known singers to be accused of stealing song ideas from other composers.

Kanye West was sued last week for allegedly taking part of his 2013 song New Slaves from a 1969 song by a Hungarian rock singer. Led Zeppelin's Robert Plant and Jimmy Page face a 14 June trial over whether they stole opening chords for their 1971 song Stairway to Heaven from a 1967 instrumental.