Composer Antônio Eustáquio Trindade Ribeiro, known as Toninho Geraes, will sue the English singer Adele for alleged plagiarism of the song “Mulheres” (1995). According to the composer, much of his melody was used in the song “Million Years Ago” (2015), credited to Adele and music producer Greg Kurstin.
To G1, the lawyer Fredímio Biasotto Trotta, responsible for the action, explains what led Geraes to sue the singer, the three notifications already sent to the parties and what the next legal steps are.
- “Million Years Ago” was released 6 years ago, but Toninho only heard it last year.
- He hasn’t filed a lawsuit yet, but he’s already sent three notifications. Two of them went to Adele, who made no response.
- He wants to be credited as a co-author, receive royalties and compensation for moral damages.
Why did the process only come in 2021?
According to the lawyer, Toninho Geraes did not know the song. He listened to “Million years ago” through producer and musician Misael da Hora in early 2020. Misael is the son of Maestro Rildo Hora, who orchestrated the recording of “Mulheres”.
“Were it not for Misael da Hora to have heard a performance of the song at a party and immediately assumed that it was an (authorized) version of the original work, it is quite possible that Toninho still did not know about the existence of plagiarism”, says Trotta.
According to Trotta, Misael looked for the song’s credits and saw that there was no mention of Brazilians. The producer then showed the song to the composer and instructed him to hire a lawyer. “When Toninho heard the work attributed to Adele, he was terrified and, at the same time, afraid,” he says. It was then that Misael introduced Toninho to Trotta.
What has been done so far?
So far, three notifications have been issued.. The first, on February 27 this year, for Sony Music. “The answer we have is from Sony who said the case was in the hands of Adele and XL Recordings for a solution,” explains the lawyer.
So, in early May, notifications were sent to XL Recordings [gravadora britânica]/Beggars Group [incorporador da XL], Adele and Greg Kurstin. As there was no response, the lawyer sent a second notification to the three on May 20, with a period of five days to respond. The parties also did not respond to this second submission.
Toninho’s team commissioned technical reports with three musical experts, with the mission of “technically breaking down” the two works. According to the lawyer, the result of the first will come out this week. “The expert said that, removing the ornaments and other supporting notes, what remains is the same skeleton, the same melodic structure”, he says.
“I don’t think it was just Adele’s work. For me, there are very strong fingerprints, there, of Greg Kurstin, an award-winning producer (Paul McCartney, Sia, Pink, Foo Fighters and Adele), a specialist in Brazilian music”, he says. Kurstin studied Brazilian music at university and learned to play berimbau, according to your Spotify profile.
According to the lawyer, Adele’s music is very similar to a version of “Women” sung by Simone, a singer already known by the producer. “She also recorded ‘Mulheres’, but at a slow pace and in the form of a pop ballad, much more similar to what Adele interpreted than Toninho’s version”, says Trotta.
What will be the next steps?
Now, they have to wait for the result of the technical reports. To this, they will add comments and testimonials from the public about the similarity in the songs collected by the team and also on social networks.
With that in hand, they’re going to take the main action. Toninho’s requests are:
- Be credited as a co-author;
- Receipt of royalties that the music earned for Adele, Kurstin and the profit obtained indirectly by the record companies;
- Compensation for pain and suffering.
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