Copyright Chaos

copyright

There is a new blight on the music industry that is working to besmirch the name of hardworking artists. There is a growing number of groundless copyright cases in recent years that have done their best to steal millions based off of simple musical coincidences. Cases have been raised against the likes of Sam Smith, Led Zeppelin and Ed Sheeran of so called copyright infringement based on very little evidence. There have been songs all throughout history that have had similarities, coincidence or otherwise: ZZ Top’s ‘La Grange’ riff is just a sped up ‘Spirit in the Sky’, Vanilla Ice stole the bass line for ‘Ice Ice Baby’ from Queen’s ‘Under Pressure’, The Phantom of the Opera theme was stolen from an excerpt of Pink Floyd’s ‘Echoes’ and almost all blues songs can trace their origins to Robert Johnson. Usually such similarities went unnoticed, but these days people are eager to exploit the slightest few notes in common. It’s a trend that needs to die out sooner rather than later, and to do so all you have to do is follow these three steps: Continue reading

Petty Theft?

petty theft

It has recently come to light that Sam Smith is now paying royalties to Tom Petty. When some people had suggested that his hit song “Stay With Me” shared similarities with the Heartbreakers’ song “I Won’t Back Down”, it was amicably settled and now Petty receives royalties and writing credit. Much like the case of Spirit suing Led Zeppelin over similarities between their instrumental track “Taurus” and the classic “Stairway to Heaven”, I think it is quite frankly a load of rubbish. There is no doubt in my mind that no theft or copyright infringement has taken place. The similarities are very vague. There is only a limited amount of music that can be made and you can’t trademark a specific chord sequence.

There are plenty of other songs that sound much more similar and no one has made a fuss. ZZ Top’s “La Grange” riff is just a sped up version of “Spirit in the Sky”, Kansas’ song “Carry On Wayward Son” sounds awfully like Journey’s “I’m Gonna Leave You”, the pop plague that is One Direction have borrowed the opening chords from The Who’s “Baba O’Riley”. For a while Queen got no credit from Vanilla Ice even though “Ice Ice Baby” directly samples “Under Pressure”. I think if a song is similar enough for it to be actually stolen then there should be no need for it to ever go to court, there should be no disagreement whatsoever, as it should sound like a carbon copy of the original and 99% of times that just isn’t the case.