Spain court clears Shakira of plagiarism

Marianne BARRIAUX
Colombian superstar singer Shakira, pictured in March, was questioned by a Spanish judge Thursday about alleged tax evasion (AFP Photo/OSCAR DEL POZO)

Madrid (AFP) - 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".

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.

- Another court case -

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.

She is suspected of not paying taxes in Spain despite being a resident between 2011 and 2014, according to prosecutors.

Shakira only transferred her official residency to Spain from the Bahamas in 2015.

But a spokesman for prosecutors in Barcelona told AFP last year that this didn't "match reality" with her children and partner already in Barcelona.

Shakira's representatives insist that until 2014 she earned most of her money on international tours and didn't live more than six months a year in Spain -- a pre-requisite to be an official tax-paying resident in the country.

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.