Two musicians who sued The Weeknd for allegedly stealing key elements of his “Call Out My Name” say they’ve reached a settlement with the superstar to end the lawsuit.
The case, filed by Suniel Fox and Henry Strange (real names Neil Fox Parakh and Shyhi Henry Hsaio), claimed that The Weeknd’s 2018 hit copied the lead guitar and vocal hooks from their 2017 song called “Vibeking.”
But in a filing Friday (March 17) in Los Angeles federal court, lawyers for Fox and Strange said they had “reached a settlement in principle of this action.” Terms of the agreement were not disclosed, and the notice said the two camps were “still in the process of formalizing, executing, and consummating” the deal.
Representatives and an attorney for The Weeknd (real name Abel Tesfaye) did not immediately return a request for comment on the purported deal.
“Call Out My Name,” off The Weeknd’s the 2018 EP My Dear Melancholy, debuted at No. 4 on the Hot 100. The track, featuring the “menacing themes fans came accustomed to earlier in his career,” eventually spent 18 weeks on the chart.
Fox and Strange, who claim to have worked previously with Drake, Kanye West, Lady Gaga, filed their copyright infringement lawsuit in September 2021, claiming that The Weeknd and co-writer Frank Dukes had stolen the “atmospheric and melancholic sound” of their earlier song.
“’Vibeking’ and ‘Call Out My Name’ contain quantitatively and qualitatively similar material in their respective lead guitar and vocal hooks, including melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic elements distinctive to ‘Vibeking’,” attorneys for the two producers wrote.
Unlike many copyright accusers, Fox and Strange claimed to have solid evidence that The Weeknd actually listened to their song — an important factor in any copyright lawsuit. They cited alleged emails in which they sent the track to The Weeknd’s playback engineer, who allegedly replied: “I sent [The Weeknd] that track u made a while ago. He listened and liked it. But nothing ever happened.”
In a later email cited by the accusers, the same engineer then told them: “Just gonna tell [The Weeknd] that our production team wrote the track. Cool? Or u have another idea? Just don’t wanna say ‘hey, [Strange] wrote this’ when he doesn’t know u.”
The Weeknd denied all of the allegations, but the litigation never progressed to the point that he had a chance to make in-depth arguments about the merits of the case.