Colombian pop star Shakira’s 2010 hit song ‘Loca’ is an illegal copy of a tune written by a Dominican musician in 1998, a US judge said Wednesday in a copyright trial. In a 40-page ruling Judge Alvin Hellerstein said the song was a replication of one written by singer and composer Ramon Arias Vasquez, known as Arias. During an 11-day trial in June, Arias testified that he wrote the song between 1996 and 1998, and he even sang it in the courtroom.

His version of the song which had been recorded on a cassette, was presented as evidence at the trial. The song became a hit in the Dominican Republic when it was later performed by another singer, Eduard Edwin Bellou Pou, also known as ‘El Cata’, in 2007. This singer, who works for Sony, said at the time he had composed the song. Shakira’s 2010 album ‘Sale el Sol’ (The Sun Comes Out), which had both Spanish and English versions of the song based on that by ‘El Cata’ who is also featured in the recording as well as several others on her album.

Mayimba Music, which had the rights to the songs of Arias, had filed a suit against Sony Corp of America and other units of Sony in 2012 for copyright violation. The judge said liability was limited to two units of Sony - Sony/ATV Latin, and Sony/ATV Discos. ‘Loca’ was a hit that sold millions of copies.  ‘The next stage in this case is determining Mayimba’s entitlement to damages and an injunction,’ the judge wrote.

It was also included on her 2010 album Sale el Sol. For English language markets, the album was titled The Sun Comes Out and both versions of the song were included. In a ruling on Tuesday, Judge Hellerstein said that while the hit single had been based on an earlier version of a song recorded by Bello El Cata, that itself had been copied from Arias Vasquez’s original song.

‘There is no dispute that Shakira’s version of the song was based on Bello’s version,’ wrote the judge in his ruling. ‘Accordingly, I find that, since Bello had copied Arias, whoever wrote Shakira’s version of the song also indirectly copied Arias,’ he concluded. Ramon Arias Vazquez penned his song Loca con su Tiguere in the 1990s, but Bello has denied copying it. The case has yet to determine damages for the plaintiff, Mayimba Music, which holds the rights to Arias’ work. Shakira’s song was distributed by Sony in both Spanish and English, but the copyright lawsuit mainly focused on the Spanish version. On 13 July, the Colombian singer performed at the World Cup closing ceremony in Rio de Janeiro.