Zayn Malik, a former member of One Direction, has been sued for alleged copyright infringement on solo hit Better.

The song, which has been streamed over 154 million times on Spotify alone, appears on his 2021 album Nobody is Listening.

According to a complaint filed on Wednesday (September 20) with the US District Court for the Central District of California, Zayn’s Better was the result of “blatant copying” of a song written and performed by California-based musician and songwriter Patrick Simmons, who goes by the stage name Havyn. (Not to be confused with Doobie Brothers frontman Patrick Simmons.)

The suit claims that Better plagiarized “numerous significant compositional elements” of Simmons’ 2018 single Somebody Tonight.

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“Without [that] blatant copying, Zayn’s Better would never have existed in its current form or become a massive worldwide success,” according to the complaint, which MBW obtained and can be read in full here.

The lawsuit, filed on behalf of Simmons’ company, Formal Entertainment LLC, names as defendants Zayn, whose real name is Zain Malik, as well as Sony Music Entertainment, which owns RCA Records, the label that released Better in 2020, and five people credited as songwriters on Better: David Debrandon Brown (aka Lucky Daye), Dusty Bowie, Michael McGregor, Cole Citrenbaum, and Philip von Boch Scully.

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According to the complaint, Simmons hired music marketing business Modern Music Marketing (MMM) in the spring of 2020 to promote his track People Change. However, a corporate official, Jonah Rindner, assured Simmons that MMM would market Somebody Tonight for free because the company thought it was Simmons’ best work.

According to the complaint, Simmons discovered the following October through Rindner that MMM also promoted Zayn’s Better, which had been released the previous month.

“Simmons inquired as to whether [Better] sounded familiar, to which Rindner replied, ‘Kind of.’ “After learning that MMM ‘worked’ Zayn’s Better and knowing that MMM had explicitly discussed Somebody Tonight, Simmons asked Rindner directly, ‘Did [Zayn] base [Better] off of my Somebody Tonight?’ and Rindner responded, ‘How would I know?'” the complaint reads.

According to the complaint, Simmons sent Sony a cease and desist letter in December 2020, and Sony “responded to the cease and desist letter expressly denying any infringement claims relating to the infringing work.”

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Better was the first song from Zayn’s third solo album, Nobody Is Listening, released after his departure from One Direction. The song was a moderate hit, peaking at No.89 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States and No.58 on the UK singles charts. On YouTube, the official video has 44 million views.

Simmons has had minor success as a musician as Havyn. Somebody Tonight had 132,000 Spotify streams as of the last count, making it his second most popular track behind People Change, which had 358,000 streams.

You can listen to the two tunes below:

Better, according to the complaint, is “so similar to Somebody Tonight that the ordinary observer would easily determine that the songs sound the same in their essential compositional and other elements.”

“Better and Somebody Tonight contain essential compositional elements so similar as to evidence the conscious copying of one in pursuit of the creation of the other,” the complaint continues. The result of this illegal copying is two songs that are so close that the average listener can only assume that Better would not exist if Somebody Tonight had not been copied.”

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The complaint demands monetary damages as well as profits gained by the defendants from Better.



Render illustration of Infringement title on Legal Documents

Zayn Malik has previously been involved in legal problems as a member of One Direction.

In 2019, songwriter David Lewis Smith sued all five original members of One Direction, as well as Universal Music Publishing, EMI Music Publishing, and Sony Music Entertainment UK, in the UK’s High Court over One Direction’s 2014 track Night Changes.

Smith claimed that Night Changes infringed on his intellectual property. In 2019, he dropped the complaint.

In 2012, a US-based musical act called One Direction sued One Direction over the band’s name. The two bands eventually reached an agreement, with the lesser-known One Direction renaming themselves Uncharted Shores.Global Music Industry.


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