Message Bookmarked
Bookmark Removed
What are some songs that got the writer into copyright trouble? And whose "version" of the song do you like better?

Mark, Sunday, 28 April 2002 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

(This question came to mind because I was playing "My Sweet Lord" one afternoon and an hour or so later my girlfriend was singing "He's so fine" to herself -- and she didn't even know Harrison got sued for it! She didn't know why the song was in her head, actually.)

Mark, Sunday, 28 April 2002 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

there was a legal squabble about ghostbusters and i want a new drug.... and that de la / turtles thing. probably lots of rap infringements before the lawyers took control

Ron, Monday, 29 April 2002 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

Didn't Harrison buy the rights to "He's So Fine"? I like "My Sweet Lord" a lot more, havta say...

There was the infamous case of John Fogerty getting sued by his old record label because "Old Man Down the Road" (his first hit from his comeback album, Centerfield) sounded too much like a CCR song (I think it was "Green River"; anyway, he wrote BOTH songs).

Joe, Monday, 29 April 2002 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

It was "Run Through The Jungle," and the lawsuit was the first thing that made me realize that 1) record companies and 2) modern concepts of copyright both suck.

(Oh, oh. I think I've just called up the Great Floating Copyright Holy War again....)

Christine "Green Leafy Dragon" Indigo, Monday, 29 April 2002 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

probably lots of rap infringements before the lawyers took control

But then they couldn't have been considered infringements back then now could they?

Clarke B., Monday, 29 April 2002 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

"Simon Says" with the GODZILLA theme.

Honda, Monday, 29 April 2002 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

Otis Redding had to give up the songwriting credit on 'Pain In My Heart', cos it copied Irma Thomas' 'Ruler of My Heart'. there's another Otis song this happened to, but i forget which one

michael, Monday, 29 April 2002 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

The Verve's "Bittersweet Symphony" saw them get bitten for 100% of the royalties from the Rolling Stones. So... yeah.

Judd Nelson, Monday, 29 April 2002 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

haha, they deserved that totally for using the whole of the Andrew Loog Oldham track. and Allen Klein's not known for generosity.

michael, Monday, 29 April 2002 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

I never like to miss an opportunity to say: "DIE! DIE, MARK COHN!"

Jeff W, Monday, 29 April 2002 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

Radiohead have to share the rights for "Creep" with The Hollies because of its marked similarity to "The Air That I Breathe".

Melissa W, Monday, 29 April 2002 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

The Stranglers' Grip & Benny Hill's Ernie have very similar sounding verses. Come to think of it, Elastica had that run in with The Stranglers over Waking Up.

Jez, Monday, 29 April 2002 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

nine years pass...

This is insane--this guy made a chiptune cover album based on "Kind of Blue", and got slammed (to the tune of over $30,000) for the pixelated album cover art:

geeta, Thursday, 23 June 2011 18:20 (nine years ago) link

But this is important: the fact that I settled is not an admission of guilt. My lawyers and I firmly believe that the pixel art is "fair use" and Maisel and his counsel firmly disagree. I settled for one reason: this was the least expensive option available.

this makes me so frustrated and angry. there are young lawyers out there who say that they're dying to work on a case like this pro bono, precisely because they want to go down in history as the ones who argued the breakthrough fair use case. but you only ever hear about these decisions after people have been crushed and forced to settle out of court for tens of thousands.

Milton Parker, Thursday, 23 June 2011 18:40 (nine years ago) link

How is the following definition of parody in fair use guidelines not exactly what the artist did?


A parody is a work that ridicules another, usually well-known work, by imitating it in a comic way. Judges understand that, by its nature, parody demands some taking from the original work being parodied. Unlike other forms of fair use, a fairly extensive use of the original work is permitted in a parody in order to “conjure up” the original.

Have not gotten over my dancing phase (Dan Peterson), Thursday, 23 June 2011 19:04 (nine years ago) link

Wow. The photographer who sued him lives in a palatial 72-room, 35,000-square-foot, six-story house in Manhattan:

geeta, Thursday, 23 June 2011 19:10 (nine years ago) link

I'm also intrigued by his "where would you draw the line" query. Left column second from bottom is still vaguely recognizable if you squint, but so far removed from the original that any sane judge/jury would hopefully tell Maisel to take a hike.

Have not gotten over my dancing phase (Dan Peterson), Thursday, 23 June 2011 20:16 (nine years ago) link

This is really bumming me out. I love Kind of Bloop.

polyphonic, Thursday, 23 June 2011 20:19 (nine years ago) link

did this get a physical release with an actual cover or was he sued over a jpg?

herbal bert (herb albert), Thursday, 23 June 2011 20:22 (nine years ago) link

I think it was a download-only release. But he did charge for it.

polyphonic, Thursday, 23 June 2011 20:26 (nine years ago) link

He charged for it ($5) but Amazon gets a cut (because they handle the payment through their system) and Miles Davis' label/company/whatever gets a cut, and he's giving whatever money that's left to the people who made the covers

geeta, Thursday, 23 June 2011 20:39 (nine years ago) link

one month passes...

Fascinating article on how Springsteen and others are soon eligible to recover ownership of their recordings

Are recording artists independent contractors or label employees?

Are recordings works for hire owned by the labels or the property of the artists?

And then there's this question which has been on the table for decades: "Do record producers, session musicians and studio engineers also qualify as “authors” of a recording, entitled to a share of the rights after they revert?"

And I love this remarkable quote: “I’ve had the date circled in red for 35 years, and now it’s time to move,” said Rick Carnes, who is president of the Songwriters Guild of America and has written hits for country artists like Reba McEntire and Garth Brooks.

Kevin John Bozelka, Tuesday, 16 August 2011 00:50 (eight years ago) link

"How the Legal Fight Over 'YMCA' could Change the Music Industry"

geeta, Thursday, 18 August 2011 20:10 (eight years ago) link

three weeks pass...


geeta, Friday, 9 September 2011 00:17 (eight years ago) link

eleven months pass...

a big piece i wrote for wired on your new copyright bot overlords:

geeta, Thursday, 6 September 2012 16:36 (seven years ago) link


puff puff post (uh oh I'm having a fantasy), Thursday, 6 September 2012 16:37 (seven years ago) link

nine months pass...

Lawsuit over "Happy Birthday To You":

Tarfumes The Escape Goat, Friday, 14 June 2013 14:45 (seven years ago) link

Is the headline "Hapy Birthday To Sue" yet?

Mark G, Friday, 14 June 2013 15:13 (seven years ago) link

four years pass...

what is going on here

sleeve, Monday, 30 October 2017 01:25 (two years ago) link

Florida being Florida?

MarkoP, Monday, 30 October 2017 04:07 (two years ago) link

Honestly I don't shed a tear about this, do artists (or in most cases their descendants) really need to keep getting paid on 50-year-old records?

IF (Terrorist) Yes, Explain (man alive), Monday, 30 October 2017 15:39 (two years ago) link

Also, I'm pretty sure this is misreported and it's just for performance rights, not for all copyright in the recording. It doesn't mean you could make bootlegs of a 1971 recording and sell them.

IF (Terrorist) Yes, Explain (man alive), Monday, 30 October 2017 15:41 (two years ago) link

one year passes...

so, if I understand this correctly, sampling always requires consent from whoever holds the rights to a specific recorded performance but recording a cover of a song does not require consent (however I guess some royalty money will go to whoever has the... publishing rights?)

but to use a cover recording in a movie/theatrical production/commercial requires consent from whoever holds the publishing rights?

niels, Wednesday, 7 November 2018 16:51 (one year ago) link

seven months pass...

Led Zeppelin won at the 2016 trial, but the matter isn’t resolved, and the stakes seem to have actually grown. Malofiy appealed, and in September, a three-judge panel on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ordered a Stairway do-over trial for procedural reasons. At the heart of the judges’ decision was a potentially industry-changing declaration: For pre-1978 unpublished songs, the deposited sheet music “defines the scope of the copyright.”

That ruling set off second appeals by both sides. Led Zeppelin asked for the original verdict to be upheld. Malofiy asked the entire appeals court, and not only three judges, to decide on the narrow issue of deposit copies. In early June, the San Francisco appeals court voted to have a rare 11-judge panel rehear the case in September, suspending the earlier appeals decision. The only topic on which the court has asked the parties for briefs so far is the primacy of deposit copies. The litigation has broader implications, undergirding a high-profile New York case in which plaintiffs are demanding more than $100 million for the alleged theft of Marvin Gaye’s Let’s Get It On for Ed Sheeran’s hit Thinking Out Loud .

The irony is there may be no winning outcome for Led Zeppelin. As Page’s testimony showed, the harder his lawyers push for strict readings of the copyright sheet music, the more they weaken the protection for Stairway.

Ambient Police (sleeve), Thursday, 20 June 2019 21:30 (one year ago) link

six months pass...

A Eurocourt case from 2019 involved Kraftwerk and a sample from their track "Metal on Metal". For two decades the band have gone through the German courts against Moses Pelham over a song "Nur mir" that he produced in 1997.

The case went to the EUROPEAN COURT OF JUSTICE over the very important 2 seconds that were sampled – judges agreed that it wasn't legal, and that EU law wouldn't allow even shorter unauthorized samples.


And that was the conclusion of the EU court’s Advocate General Maciej Szpunar when he published an opinion on the Kraftwerk case last year. He wrote: “A phonogram is not an intellectual creation consisting of a composition of elements such as words, sounds, colours etc. A phonogram is a fixation of sounds which is protected, not by virtue of the arrangement of those sounds, but rather on account of the fixation itself”.

^ ^ new kraftwerk lyrics

But the real winner is the F-word, which is now a recognized legal term in EU documents, unless this writer was just paraphrasing

But what about the artistic freedom of the sampler that the German Constitutional Court was so concerned about? Well, the ECJ has put some constraints on its main ruling. In particular, if the sampler fucks with the sample so that it is unrecognisable in the final track, well, that’s fine. Because, it seems, sampling isn’t artistic enough to be protected by artistic freedoms, but fucking with samples is. – (Chris Cooke, CMU)

The real lesson is, don't ever sample a group from the '60s or '70s, it isn't worth it.


Kraftwerk - "Metall auf Metall"

EXHIBIT A, again:

Sabrina Setlur - "Nur mir"
(Somehow the music video has survived for 12 years on Youtube, where most others from the '00s were deleted. For copyright infringement.)

sbahnhof, Saturday, 4 January 2020 04:46 (six months ago) link

But why? They want to hang up a lot of album covers in their office?

Hipgnosis cofounder Merck Mercuriadis said: “Ask any of today’s greatest creators who their biggest influences are and the one name that appears on everybody’s list is Timbaland. Blink 182's Tom DeLonge.”

sbahnhof, Wednesday, 8 January 2020 06:24 (six months ago) link

Haha. Here’s a whole thing about it — publishing rights as evergreen commodity:

Don’t yell ‘Judas!’ in a crowded theater (morrisp), Wednesday, 8 January 2020 06:36 (six months ago) link

The Kraftwerk v Pelham lawsuit is back before the BUNDESGERICHTSHOF, but unexpectedly the 22-year case is set to go on for even longer – weeks or months, God. It's not like Germans to overcomplicate matters

Snapshot from yesterday:

...It's cool that there are two girl Kraftwerks now, while Moses Pelham's lawyer is Andre Rieu for some reason.

sbahnhof, Friday, 10 January 2020 09:09 (six months ago) link

Public Domain Day 2020: These 95-Year-Old Works Are Now Free to Use

The Squalls Of Hate (sleeve), Friday, 10 January 2020 18:55 (six months ago) link

one month passes...

This is rad:

DJI, Friday, 14 February 2020 23:57 (five months ago) link

You must be logged in to post. Please either login here, or if you are not registered, you may register here.