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France, Algeria

Rai star Cheb Mami fined 200,000 euros for plagiarism

Cheb Mami at a concert in Algeria in 2011
Cheb Mami at a concert in Algeria in 2011 AFP

A French court has ordered Franco-Algerian singer Cheb Mami and his production company EMI to pay a 200,000-euro fine to another Algerian songwriter for plagiarism last Friday.


Raï star Cheb Mami was found guilty of copying, at least in part, the lyrics of several songs written by songwriter Rabah Zerradine, who performs under the name Cheb Rabah.

A comparative analysis of the songs translated from Arabic to French showed a high level of similarity between the two artists' versions.

In Cheb Mami's hit Madanite, for example, four out of the five verses were found to have been taken from Cheb Rabah's Omri.

The court claims that Zerradine should be considered as the only author of four songs (Le raï c'est chic, Ma vie deux fois, Mandanite, Gualbi Gualbi), as well as original coauthor of Desert Rose, which reached world fame in the early 2000s.

Cheb Mami and EMI were ordered to pay a fine of 100,000 euros for moral prejudice, as Zerradine believes he lost an opportunity of world acclaim due to the plagiarism.

They were also fined 100,000 euros for infringement of the author's copyright.

Cheb Mami was sentenced to five years in prison for attempting to force his ex-partner to abort in 2009.

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