One Direction song ‘Night Changes’ at centre of High Court dispute

Copyright claim made by singer songwriter David Lewis Smith

Niall Horan with ‘One Direction’ performing  at Croke Park in 2014. Photograph: Dave Meehan

Niall Horan with ‘One Direction’ performing at Croke Park in 2014. Photograph: Dave Meehan


A singer songwriter has taken a case over alleged copyright infringement against the five original members of boy band One Direction and various other parties.

David Lewis Smith claims the One Direction song Night Changes infringes his musical work.

As a result of the alleged infringement, Mr Smith, represented by Smyth & Son solicitors of Drogheda, is seeking various orders and damages. As well as the four current members of the band — Niall Horan, Harry Styles, Liam Payne and Louis Tomlinson — the proceedings are also against Zain Malik who left One Direction in 2015.

The claim is also against UK songwriter Jamie Scott and US songwriters Julian Bunetta and John Ryan, who wrote and produced Night Changes. Other defendants include Simco, the production company behind The X Factor; Big Deal Music, a publishing company which Mr Ryan claims he signed a contract with in 2013; Universal Music Publishing; EMI Music Publishing and Sony Music Entertainment UK Ltd. The defendants all deny the plaintiff’s claims.

The song Night Changes was released by One Direction in 2014 and featured on their fourth studio album, Four.

At the High Court on Thursday, a pretrial motion in the case was listed before Ms Justice Leonie Reynolds.

Lawyers for Mr Smith are seeking various discovery orders against some of the defendants, except Simco and Sony Music Entertainment. They want all documents relating to the composition and writing of sources for the song Night Changes, including documents relating to any earlier and separate drafts of the song.

Orders for discovery are also sought in relation to documents connected with the sound recording of the song, including alternative versions of sound recordings. All documents relating to the performance, sale, recording, distribution, publication and downloads of Night Changes from its initial release and publication are also sought.

Mr Smith also wants discovery of all documents relating to the worldwide earnings of Night Changes or any album being sought from US-based defendant Big Deal Music. The matter has been returned before the court in early March.