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A screenshot of the two music videos, from YouTube
A screenshot of the two music videos, from YouTube

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Rap group sues YouTuber for copying decade-old song

An American rap group called Flobots is suing YouTuber Logan Paul for copying their song.

Paul, who released a song in 2017 called No Handlebars, allegedly copied Flobots' 2008 song, titled Handlebars.

You can hear Paul's song here, and Flobots' here.

According to the lawsuit, Flobots said there are a number of similarities between Paul's song and theirs. It said both songs have the same lyrcs and rhythms over a four-bar passage. "No Handlebars" also allegedly copies the original trumpet riff and melody from "Handlebars", which the lawsuit claims is "unusual in the genre and very distinctive here".

It wrote: "The hooks found in both works’ choruses are each a four-bar passage containing a long series of nearly identical lyrics and rhythms, and highly similar melodic contours in comparison to one another."

The group also included musical transcriptions as evidence that the hooks, rhythm and metric positions for the two are identical over the four-bar passage.

Paul has denied knowing about Flobots or their song. But Flobots, formed in 2005, said in the lawsuit that they have both national and international exposure as a band.

The YouTuber has since removed “No Handlebars” from his YouTube channels.

Paul has over 23 million subscribers to his YouTube channels and 18 million followers on Instagram.

The lawsuit estimates that Paul's music video has received more than 26 million views in one month (in comparison to the music video by Flobots, which has had 49 million views since it was uploaded in 2009), and that Paul has earned in excess of US$1 million from the song, including from public performances, licensing and sales.

Flobots are seeking actual damages in addition to Paul's profits that are attributable to the copyrighted material, an accounting of "all profits, income, receipts, or other benefits" derived by Paul from "No Handlebars", an injunction barring them from further infringing the copyright, and to be entitled to a running royalty on all future exploitations of Paul's song.

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Mark Laudi

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