NEW YORK -- A Long Island song writer has filed a $1 million lawsuit against pop singer Lionel Richie, accusing him of stealing the melody for the hit song, 'Hello.'
In the suit filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, Marjorie Hoffman White, 38, of Wantagh, said she wrote and copyrighted her song, 'I'm Not Ready to Go,' in 1978.
A musicologist concluded Richie 'completely incorporated' Mrs. White's melody into 'Hello,' said Ira Leibowitz, Mrs. White's attorney.
The suit seeks to ban Richie from singing 'Hello,' halt all production and distribution of recordings and sheet music, and provide Mrs. White with royalties.
The royalties could amount to 'well over $1 million' because of the song's popularity, Leibowitz said.
'Hello,' from Richie's 'Can't Slow Down' album, has sold more than 1 million copies. The album also has sold more than 1 million copies.
Mrs. White immediately noticed the resemblance between her song and 'Hello' when she first heard the hit song two months ago, the attorney said.
Also named as defendants were the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, which licenses use of the song, the Brockman Music Co. of Los Angeles, holder of the copyright, Motown Record Corp. of Los Angeles and MCA Distributing, Inc. of Manhattan, distributor of the tapes and records.