According to a report from Billboard, a trio of British songwriters filed a compliant with the Central District of California Wednesday alleging that the Weeknd's song rips off their own, a track they say got caught up in Universal Music Group's 2008 acquisition of Big Life Music. The latter owned the "I Need Love" rights, though the writers—William Smith, Scott McCulloch, and Brian Clover—say Universal told them in 2016 that those rights would be given up.
Then, a few weeks after the November 2016 release of Starboy, Clover was doing some shopping at a Topman location when he heard "A Lonely Night" over the store's speakers and allegedly spotted "similarities." The three songwriters are seeking unspecified damages in the resulting suit.
Below, hear a key-matched clip of the two songs comparing their melodic structure:
The Weeknd's expansive Starboy universe has been hit with legal action before. Back in November, reports came in that he was being sued over his Starboy collab comic with Marvel. Comic book writer Eymun Talasazan said at the time that he was working on a comic that would center on a group of "R&B and rap stars" as far back as 2014. Three years later, Talasazan alleged, he met with the Weeknd's team about bringing a Starboy character into the story.
"This is not a case about who created or first used the term 'Starboy,'" Talasazan's attorney Kirk Schenck said at the time. "This case will decide if a songwriter automatically (without filing a trademark application) obtains trademark protection for all later uses of a word, even if those later uses have nothing to do with albums, song titles, music, or lyrics."
My Dear Melancholy, the Weeknd's most recent project, arrived back in March of last year. He's since popped up on tracks from Nav and Gesaffelstein. Another new project is expected at some point in 2019.