Justin Bieber and his mentor, R&B singer Usher, are being sued for $10 million by a pair of songwriters who claim that Bieber's hit song "Somebody to Love" was stolen from them, according to a complaint obtained by TheWrap.
In a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in eastern Virginia on Thursday, Devin Copeland — an R&B singer who performs under the name De Rico — and songwriter Mareio Overton say that they wrote "Somebody to Love" in 2008, the same year that De Rico released the song on his album "My Story II."
The pair later met up with a promoter who hooked them up with music talent scouting company Sangreel Media, who said that they exposed Usher to Copeland's album, the lawsuit claims.
According to the complaint, the pair later spoke to Usher's mother/sometimes manager, Jonetta Patton, who said that Usher had listened to the album and expressed interest in bringing Copeland on tour with him.
Usher worked up a demo version of the tune and posted it on YouTube, the suit says, and while he ultimately decided not to record it, Bieber did, including it on his album "My World 2.0."
The song, released by Bieber as a single, went to Number 15 on the charts, according to the suit. Moreover, Usher released a remix of the song, taking lead vocals with Bieber singing backup.
The suit cites numerous similarities between the plaintiffs' "Somebody to Love" and the Bieber/Usher version. Aside from the identical title, the suit says that the songs have the same time signature and chorus hook, both use similar chords at similar points in the songs, and both feature "call and response" passages at similar points in the songs.
Perhaps most damningly, the suit claims, both songs "use one measure of strategic silence just prior to or at the beginning of the chorus."
Copeland and Overton are hoping that silence speaks volumes, and are asking for "an amount not less that Ten Million and 00/100 Dollars ($10,000,000.00) or other such amount as may be proven at trial."
Bieber's manager and attorney have not yet responded to TheWrap's request for comment on the suit, which alleges copyright infringement, contributory infringement and vicarious infringement.
Attempts to reach a spokesperson for Usher were unsuccessful.
Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.