Avicii vs Leona Lewis: malicious copyright infringement or a simple misunderstanding?
A new track from Leona Lewis just hit the Internet, and if you’ve heard “Collide,” you’ll notice that it bears an uncanny resemblance to a track from none other than Tim Berg, “Fade Into Darkness.” We’re used to hearing about friendships an
d partnerships in the DJ world, but this is one that certainly departs from that clean track record. Keep reading to get the lowdown.
You may remember that Avicii previewed the track in question — which was at that time referred to as “Penguin” — all the way back in December, as part of his BBC Radio 1 “Essential Mix.” It was sampled from a tune called “Perpetuum Mobile,” which originated from the Penguin Cafe Orchestra back in the late 80s. (See what they did with the name there?) According to Tim’s management, when the vocal track was commissioned, it was pitched to Leona Lewis without their knowledge, at which point in time her camp expressed interest in using the track on her upcoming album.
Here’s where things start to get fishy. SyCo, Simon Cowell’s label that represents Leona, was apparently turned down by AtNight, since “Penguin” / “Fade Into Darkness” was already Tim’s next planned single. Still, Leona’s people liked the track so much that they brought in producer heavyweight Sandy Vee to essentially reproduce the track for use with Leona’s vocals — all without AtNight’s knowledge or approval.
Avicii – Fade Into Darkness (Vocal Mix)
Fast forward to today, when the duo has revealed the track to be called “Collide,” with a scheduled release in September. Today was also the first time Avicii’s crew even heard the track, and only when chatter on Twitter got back that there was some funny business going on. Now Leona’s camp is pitching the track to BBC Radio 1, and from what we hear, the radio station is inclined to support The X Factor winner’s track over the young Swede’s, despite the fact that most onlookers credit the original production to Tim Berg. We’ve heard that Simon Cowell himself has been involved in the debacle, apparently disregarding Ministry of Sound — who has picked up “Fade Into Darkness” and represents Tim — and trying to push the track thru the Radio 1 pipe to airtime.
Ministry of Sound has come out swinging, however, and has directly accused Leona and crew of plagiarizing the track for their own profit. To complicate matters, unconfirmed reports on Twitter are now saying that Avicii is listed as a co-producer, but we have confirmed that AtNight Management has absolutely not agreed to any such arrangements, and that no legal documents have been signed by anyone involved. DigitalSpy got an official comment from MOS, who says, “Pete Tong, Annie Mac and Scott Mills have been playing ‘Penguin’ for months now, but this week we’ve realized Simon Cowell and Leona Lewis have stolen our record. ‘Collide’ is identical to Avicii’s track!”
We’ve reached out to BBC Radio 1, Sony Music, and Leona’s and Sandy Vee’s management for statements on the matter, but have yet to hear back. We’ll be sure to keep you updated as we hear more. To us it seems pretty clear that something’s not right, but we’ll leave that to the lawyers to sort out. What do you think of the situation?
*Note: YouTube has been removing Leona’s track for copyright reasons, try this link for active videos if the embedded one dies unexpectedly.
UPDATE: Avicii himself has finally taken to Twitter to share his side of the story. In a series of Tweets, he first credits the Penguin Cafe Orchestra for the original sample, and goes on to express his disappointment at someone “taking our idea” before he had the chance to release it. We don’t deny it’s a sticky situation, but at the same time, the track has leaked in various forms over the past few months, and doesn’t yet have an official release date. In this mess though, who knows when that’ll happen.
UPDATE #2: Avicii’s management has released a statement regarding the matter:
“We never got to hear the track before it was promoed on radio, how could we clear anything? We’re not amateurs – we don’t sign papers without knowing what [we're] getting into.” – Ash Pournouri, Manager and Executive Producer of Avicii
Update 4: (July 20) Want to know what happens next? Head to this link for more.