Spain court clears Shakira of plagiarism of hit song La Bicicleta

A Spanish court said Thursday it had cleared Colombian superstars Shakira and Carlos Vives of accusations they plagiarised part of their Grammy award-winning hit "La Bicicleta".

Spain court clears Shakira of plagiarism of hit song La Bicicleta
Colombian singers Carlos Vives and Shakira in their video for the controversial song La Bicicleta. Photo: YouTube

Livan Rafael Castellanos, a Cuban singer known as Livam, had alleged that the catchy tune copied parts of the melody and lyrics from his own song called “Yo te quiero tanto” (I love you so much).

“There is no plagiarism whatsoever as claimed by the plaintiff in this lawsuit,” the commercial court said in its ruling.

Music publisher MDRB had filed a complaint in 2017 in the Madrid court on behalf of Livam.

In March, Shakira, 42, who lives in Barcelona, told the court she had “never heard” Livam's song before.

Vives, 57, also said he did not know the song or Livam.”La Bicicleta” — or “The Bicycle” in English — won two of the three biggest Grammy Latino awards for 2016, including song and record of the year.

In the song Shakira and Vives sing “que te sueno y que te quiero tanto” (I dream of you and love you so much), while Livam says “yo te quiero, yo te quiero tanto” (I love you, I love you so much).

But the court ruled that the expression was “common, used in all sorts of songs and lyrics, all through history”.

It added that the melody, rhythm and harmony were different in both songs.

Shakira, who lives with FC Barcelona defender Gerard Pique and their two sons, is due to appear in court again in June for allegedly evading taxes of 14.5 million euros ($16.3 million), a charge her lawyers deny.

With her mix of Latin, Arab and rock influences, Shakira is one of the biggest stars from South America, scoring major global hits with songs such as

“Hips Don't Lie” and “Whenever, Wherever”. She has sold more than 60 million records. 

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Austrian minister steps down over plagiarism accusations

Austrian minister Christine Aschbacher resigned from her cabinet post in charge of labour, families and youth on Saturday following allegations some of her university work was plagiarised.

Austrian minister steps down over plagiarism accusations
Austrian minister Christine Aschbacher has resigned in the face of plagiarism accusations. Photo: Helmut Fohringer/APA/AFP
A conservative from Chancellor Sebastian Kurz's OeVP party, Aschbacher said she had stepped down to “protect my family”, complaining of “hostility, political agitation and attacks… with unbearable force”.
Aschbacher's 2006 master's thesis displayed “plagiarism, incorrect quotations and lack of knowledge of the German language”, alleged blogger Stefan Weber, who specialises in sniffing out academic fraud.
At the time, she graduated with high marks from the University of Applied Sciences in Wiener Neustadt, south of Austrian capital Vienna.
Weber has levelled the same allegations at a thesis she submitted in May last year — in the depths of the first wave of coronavirus — to the Technical University of Bratislava in neighbouring Slovakia.
He claimed the work contained “never-before-seen depths of gobbledygook, nonsense and plagiarism” and that more than one-fifth of the text had been lifted from other sources without citations, in particular an article from Forbes magazine.
Under attack by the opposition, Aschbacher “rejected” what she called Weber's “insinuations”.
Kurz wrote on Twitter that he “respected” her decision to resign, after the scandal piled pressure on a government facing criticism for its management of the second wave of Covid-19, widely seen as chaotic.
The chancellor added that he would name a successor on Monday.
Academic plagiarism is a regular charge levelled at politicians in the German-speaking world, where leaders often brandish postgraduate qualifications.
In Germany, two conservatives, Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg and Annett Schavan, stepped down from the defence and education ministries in 2011 and 2013 over similar scandals, while current centre-left Families Minister Franziska Giffey has been dogged by plagiarism allegations for years.