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The Weeknd faces lawsuit over unlicensed sample in 2015 hit The Hills

Canadian R&B singer The Weeknd may be in legal hot water for his chart-topping hit, The Hills, which allegedly includes an unlicensed sample from the score of 2013 sci-fi film, The Machine. 

Film financier and music publisher Cutting Edge Music filed a lawsuit Wednesday against The Weeknd (née Abel Tesfaye), his producers, Universal Music, and the song’s publishers alleging that The Hills ripped a sample from the Tom Raybould-scored film. The song in question (listen below on Spotify) is called Revolution.

And the primary evidence is pretty convincing: the plaintiff claims that The Hills’ producer Emmanuel “Mano” Nickerson sent an incriminating direct message to the composer Tom Raybould in March through Twitter. “I sampled your music might make it 2 the weeknd next album,” wrote Nickerson according to the claim (via The Hollywood Reporter). “Huge fan of what u did 4 the machine movie!”

The complaint further says that “Both the Infringing Song and the Track featuring synthesizer bass-lines performed with almost identical idiosyncratic sounds at the same register and using the same pitch sequence, melodic phase structure and rhythmic durations.”

The Hills, a seductive banger off of The Weeknd’s chart-topping sophomore record, Beauty Behind the Madness, has 275 million streams on Spotify and sold 2.4 million digital copies since its May release.

The team behind the song certainly have an uphill battle to fight, especially considering Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke lost the Blurred Lines case earlier this year. In March, a jury ruled that Blurred Lines was improperly derived from Marvin Gaye’s 1977 classic song Got to Give It Up. The Gaye family testimonial was on the basis of  “similarities in signature phrases, hook, keyboard-bass interplay, lyrics and themes of the songs,” according to Billboard.

We’ll keep you updated on the case, but it sounds like Tesfaye may have a difficult time proving he’s in the clear.

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Chris Leo Palermino
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Chris Leo Palermino is a music, tech, business, and culture journalist based between New York and Boston. He also contributes…
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