Bruno Mars, producer Mark Ronson, four record labels and others involved with the huge 2014 hit Uptown Funk are the subject of a new copyright infringement lawsuit.
Minneapolis funk group Collage - which has only one surviving member, Larry White - claims the hit is too derivative of its 1983 hit Young Girls, and copies their original song's structure, melody, harmony and rhythm. Though White is the only living member of the band, the estates of two deceased members, Grady Wilkins and Lee Peters, are also listed as defendants.
Uptown Funk remains Mars' biggest hit, and has sold more than 6.1 million copies. It was also number one on the Billboard chart for the second-longest period since records began. Estimates suggest the song earns about $100,000 from streaming rights on Spotify every week.
The text of the lawsuit, obtained by the site Pitchfork, notes that Ronson and Mars have talked about how Uptown Funk was influenced by early 1980s Minneapolis electro-funk soul music, of which the late Kiss hitmaker Prince was also a pioneer. Collage are seeking damages and profits.
The complaint itself states in part: "Upon information and belief, many of the main instrumental attributes and themes of Uptown Funk are deliberately and clearly copied from Young Girls, including, but not limited to, the distinct funky specifically noted and timed consistent guitar riffs present throughout the compositions, virtually if not identical bass notes and sequence, rhythm, structure, crescendo of horns and synthesizers rendering the compositions almost indistinguishable if played over each other and strikingly similar if played in consecutively (sic)."
Earlier this year (16), another group called The Sequence also claimed that Uptown Funk infringed on an original song of theirs, though they did not bring a lawsuit.