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Band Claims ‘Uptown Funk’ Ripped Its Tune

LOS ANGELES (CN) - A little-known '80s funk band filed a copyright complaint against record producer Mark Ronson and singer-songwriter Bruno Mars over their 2014 hit "Uptown Funk."

Guitarist Larry White, of the L.A. band Collage, sued Ronson and Mars in Federal Court on Friday, claiming "Uptown Funk" borrows from Collage's 1983 song "Young Girls."

Collage, which charted in 1985 with the song "Romeo Where's Juliet?" says that Ronson and Mars had "reasonable access" to "Young Girls" before creating "Uptown Funk."

Led Zeppelin in June defeated a claim that it had lifted the opening riff from "Stairway to Heaven" from the tune "Taurus," by the rock band Spirit. In 2015, a federal jury awarded Marvin Gaye's survivors $7.4 million, later reduced to $5.3 million, for their claim that Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines" violated copyright on "Got to Give It Up."

Both the "Stairway" and "Blurred Lines" cases on appeal in the Ninth Circuit.

In the "Blurred Lines" copyright trial Pharrell told jurors he had been influenced only by the feel of Gaye's "Got to Give it Up."

In the new lawsuit, White tried to preempt a similar argument by saying that Ronson and Mars did more than just evoke a "feel" or "groove."

"(M)any 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," the complaint states.

White claims that Ronson's previous career as a DJ in New York City clubs shows he had "reasonable access" to "Young Girls." He believes Mars heard the song because he is an "avid funk/electro-funk music fan" and has worked closely with Ronson.

More than 6 million of copies of "Uptown Funk" have been sold in the United States and the song has earned $100,000 per week "via streaming on Spotify alone," the complaint states.

The video, which features both Ronson and Mars, has registered 1 billion views, making it the fifth most-popular on YouTube of all time, according to the complaint.

"Uptown Funk" won a Grammy Award in February for Record of the Year.

Yours, Mine And Ours Music, and the estates of former band members Lee Peters and Grady Wilkins are also plaintiffs.

Defendants include Sony Music Entertainment, Warner/Chappell Music, RCA, Atlantic Recording, and Universal Music.

White seeks an accounting, disgorgement of profits, an injunction and actual and statutory damages for copyright infringement. He is represented by Antonio Kizzie, with Ivie, McNeill & Wyatt.

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