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Bad Bunny, Tainy, and More Sued for Copyright Infringement Over “Safaera”

Bad Bunny, Tainy, and More Sued for Copyright Infringement Over “Safaera”

The rights holder for DJ Playero’s Playero 37 mixtape claims the artists did not obtain a license to sample three tracks for the YHLQMDLG track “Safaera”

Bad Bunny

Bad Bunny, May 2021 (Rich Fury/Getty Images for dcp)

Bad Bunny, along with all of his collaborators on his YHLQMDLG track “Safaera,” have been sued for direct and contributory copyright infringement, according to documents viewed by Pitchfork. The suit was filed in a California federal court by AOM Music, Inc.—whose registered agent is Omar Merced, the son of BM Records founder Pedro Merced—which claims that “Safaera” includes music from DJ Playero’s Playero mixtapes. Merced is asking for $150,000 in statutory damages for each infringed work or actual damages in the way of any and all gains, profits and advantages derived from the release of “Safaera,” as well an injunction to impound or destroy the infringing works and attorneys fees. Find the lawsuit below.

The lawsuit names three songs—“Besa Tu Cuerpo,” “Chocha con Bicho,” and “Sigan Bailando”—from DJ Playero’s Playero 37: Underground and Playero Greatest Hits: Street Mix 2 mixtapes—and allege that portions of the songs appear on “Safaera.” An included exhibit depicts the musical notation of each track juxtaposed with that of “Safaera” for comparison. It also cites Pitchfork’s reviews of “Safaera” and YLHQMDLG as evidence of DJ Playero’s influence on the song. The suit names featured rappers Jowell & Randy and Ñengo Flow, as well as producers Tainy and DJ Orma, Bad Bunny’s label Rimas Entertainment, and several other labels and publishing companies. Pitchfork has reached out to representatives for Bad Bunny and AOM Music, Inc for comment.

DJ Playero’s mixtapes from the early 1990s were foundational to the evolution of reggae en español into Puerto Rican reggaetón. Artists like Daddy Yankee, Nicky Jam, Yaga y Mackie, and more got their start on the freewheeling mixes, which themselves sampled classic dancehall riddims and sound effects. Pedro Merced founded BM Records in 1978, and by the ’90s, the label had established itself as the largest distributor of the “underground” music that would come to be known as reggaetón. After toiling in the underground, Playero signed a distribution deal with Pedro Merced in 1991. The following year, BM re-released Playero 37 as Playero 37: Underground, which included “Besa Tu Cuerpo” and “Chocha con Bicho.” According to the lawsuit, copyrights were assigned in 1998. By 2005, BM had been boxed out by major labels and was forced to shut down.

“Safaera” was released on February 29, 2020, as the 14th track on Bad Bunny’s second album YLHQMDLG (Yo Lo Hago Que Me De La Gana). In May 2020, “Safaera’ was briefly pulled from digital streaming services while certain samples were cleared. On July 1, 2020, the copyright for Playero 37: Underground and Playero Greatest Hits: Street Mix 2 transferred to AOM Music, Inc. The BM Records name has also been revived; included among their 2021 releases is a remake of DJ Playero and Daddy Yankee’s classic cut “El Funeral.”

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