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Shakira's hit song ripped off Dominican artist: N.Y. judge

By Andrew Chung

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A federal judge has found that a hit 2010 song by Colombian pop star Shakira copied a Dominican songwriter’s work.

U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein in a ruling in Manhattan federal court on Tuesday said Shakira’s Spanish-language single “Loca" infringed on the work of Ramon Arias Vasquez, who wrote “Loca con su Tiguere” in the late 1990s.

Hellerstein dismissed claims that Shakira's English version of the track infringed, citing a lack of evidence. 

The ruling is a victory for the plaintiff, Mayimba Music, which holds the rights to Arias's work and which sued Sony Corp of America and several other Sony units in 2012.

The judge found only two of them liable, Sony/ATV Latin and Sony/ATV Discos, for distributing Shakira’s song.

An attorney for Sony declined to comment. An attorney for Mayimba could not immediately be reached.

Shakira reached the top of the Latin Billboard charts with "Loca," reportedly selling more than five million copies of the single worldwide.

Hellerstein said Shakira's single was based on a 2007 song by Dominican rapper Eduard Edwin Bello Pou, better known as El Cata, which also copied Arias and was distributed by Sony.

The ruling said Arias's song, and the subsequent copies, revolve around a love triangle in which the singers are poor and the opposing suitors are rich, a theme expressed in Arias's title. Shakira's version uses the word "tigre" (tiger) instead of "tiguere," which is Dominican slang, but Hellerstein said the meaning was the same.

The next phase of the case will be to determine Mayimba's damages and a permanent injunction requested by the company against Sony.

The case is Mayimba Music, Inc v. Sony Corp of America, Sony Music Entertainment, Sony/ATV Latin Music Publishing LLC, Sony/ATV Discos Music Publishing LLC, and Sony/ATV Tunes LLC in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, No. 12-cv-1094.

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