Joe Satriani Sues Coldplay For Copyright Infringement

from the name-that-tune dept

Guitar virtuoso Joe Satriani has sued Coldplay for copyright infringement over claims that their hit single, Viva La Vida, used "substantial original portions" of his song If I Could Fly from 2004, seeking damages for "any and all profits." The lawsuit has been filed in Los Angeles federal court. Call me a skeptic, but it was just back in June when we wrote about a band called Creaky Boards making a similar claim. The difference is that the Creaky Boards didn't sue. They made a cheeky video and used the opportunity to get some attention (also, later retracting the statement after Coldplay refuted it). However, one notable difference here is that Coldplay was very unlikely to have heard the Creaky Boards song, while Joe Satriani is well known, especially among guitarists. When you listen to this clip, the melodies are certainly very similar:

But does that mean it was copied? Most people's knee-jerk reaction is to assume it must have been, but here's an idea: Creaky Boards, Coldplay and Joe Satriani all have a similar melody over a similar chord sequence. When Coldplay responded to Creaky Boards, Chris Martin called it a "simple coincidence." Is it not plausible that it's just a somewhat natural melody to sing over those chords? You can't copyright a chord sequence. If you search YouTube for these sorts of claims, you quickly realize that a lot of songs sound the same. Some cases are blatant infringement, but for most, there are only so many notes in a scale...

Chris Martin has said: "We're definitely good, but I don't think you can say we're that original. I regard us as being incredibly good plagiarists." I bet he wishes he hadn't said that now, but to what extent is that true about all of our ideas? Isn't a certain element of "plagiarism" a natural part of the creative process? Where's the line between plagiarism and inspiration? Of course, trying to pass someone's work off as your own is bad because it's dishonest and you aren't giving proper credit, and your reputation will likely suffer for it if someone finds out. But even if Coldplay did get the melody from Satriani (whether consciously or unconsciously), how much damage have they done? If you listen to the theme of Satriani's song and the verse of Coldplay's, the melodies are very similar, but the songs in their entirety are very different. Coldplay takes the song in a completely different direction in the chorus, while that melody is Satriani's chorus. Coldplay's song has lyrics, Satriani's is instrumental. They appeal to different audiences, they're very different songs. Even if it is an case of infringement, how significant is it?

That's saying little about the legal realities though. It's bound to be a sticky issue in court. Coldplay will likely claim independent creation to try and clear their name (unless they did blatantly rip it off, in which case they might look for a settlement). How do you prove whether or not someone came up with a melody independently? How many notes or rhythms need to be similar to prove that one melody is a derivative of another? This is going to be an interesting case to watch.


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  1.  
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    cram, Dec 5th, 2008 @ 8:00pm

    Hi Blaise

    Nice writeup. I'd like to know what you think of the accusations against Led Zeppelin as regards plagiarism and infringement. I don't think their reputation suffered even after it was proven that they had actually passed off otehrs' songs without giving them credit (Willie Dixon being a notable example). Sometimes suing is necessary to tell the world how original or ethical a band is.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 5th, 2008 @ 8:23pm

    Some people need to grow up

    And this is why the hippies think music should be free. Hell, musicians like music. They like LISTENING to music. They like PLAYING music. Music is their life, supposedly. I'm willing to bet that there isn't a musician alive that has never "borrowed" a riff or anything without even realizing it.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 5th, 2008 @ 8:39pm

    I've listened to both and have decided that Coldplay is a lame MOR band, completely capable of such a blatant ripoff.
    Sign me up for the jury. I'd like to see Satriani pwning those noobs for everything they own.

     

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    Spectere, Dec 5th, 2008 @ 9:04pm

    Re:

    So you'd willingly help to set a bad legal precedent simply because you don't like a particular band?

    Wow.

     

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    ScoLgo, Dec 5th, 2008 @ 9:11pm

    This is why copyright laws are lame

    If copyright law wasn't so far out of whack, this wouldn't even be an issue. Fact is there are only 12 notes in music & with the proliferation of 'talent', (and I use the word loosely with regards to Coldplay), there's bound to be some overlap.

    Think about this; when you create something for your employer, do you keep getting paid for that work for the rest of your life, (plus ~50 years)? Probably not. Instead, you have to get up tomorrow and create something again in order to get paid.

    Why is creating music, books, movies, etc. so different? Because corps have bought those laws from Congress so they can rent our culture back to us in little pieces in perpetuity.

    It's a completely ridiculous system.

     

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    Mycroft, Dec 5th, 2008 @ 9:12pm

    Coldplay Satriani Controversy

    I think the best settlement is for Coldplay and Joe Satriani to join forces, tour together, record together and show a completely alternate solution to lawyering up.
    They should agent up. The coolest thing would be for Coldplay to admit that Joe must have influenced them at some level. They should have Coldplay do their thing, then have Joe Satriani rise up out of the floor of the stage playing his guitar solo. I bet the place would go nuts. Why make the lawyers rich, enrich the world of creativity!

     

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    Gil Gamesh, Dec 5th, 2008 @ 9:16pm

    A couple years ago I attended a classical concert titled 'Pirates of the Baroque' in which the orchestra played movements from Bach, Handel, Vivaldi, and Telemann, and the conductor explained how they were all ripping each other's melodies and progressions off. It was interesting, because the plagiarism was evident, but at the same time each composer made the music really their own. Additionally, it wasn't regarded at the time as a really negative thing, it's just building on others ideas for inspiration.
    I'm a big Satch fan. I've been to more of his concerts than I can remember, and I suspect the Coldplay melody is a ripoff. But I'd also say it's an overreaction on Joe's part. After all, isn't imitation the sincerest form of flattery?

     

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    Come On, Dec 5th, 2008 @ 9:18pm

    REtarded

    This is retarded. Must be the lawyers that are doing this. Joe Satriani is no longer any good, but at least he's not a douche.

     

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    David, Dec 5th, 2008 @ 9:29pm

    Robert Heinlein

    I think that's how you spell it - the science fiction writer; he wrote a futuristic (?) short story called "Melancholoy Elephants" in which every musical melody had already been done, and there was nothing left to copyright. I suspect this is somewhat the case here. It appears there is something in Coldplay's favor, in that the lyrics (which are presumably Coldplay's) are written so that there is lyrical rhythm (to the syllable) to match the melody - which Satriani's version lacks. It's certainly difficult to imagine anyone in Coldplay going, "Hey guys, let's rip off Satriani." I don't see it - and if I'm not mistaken, Coldplay's expression does come off as genuine.

     

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    LMFAOSchwarz, Dec 5th, 2008 @ 9:30pm

    Gettin' Cold Played

    They should change their name to Cold Pwn'd. To rob the wandering musical bard, Satriani, is just plain criminal. What's next is Guitar Hero going to rip him off. I am writing my congressman to introduce legislation for the original thought police: any two people found to have the same idea must duel to the death. We've got to start controlling the world's population sometime. Plus then maybe Nicole Kidman would be single again and the tabloids could use the fodder.

     

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    ehrichweiss, Dec 5th, 2008 @ 9:39pm

    Re: Re:

    or maybe just because they suck so badly that they're entirely capable of the infringement? You know...that OTHER choice you didn't offer up..

     

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    Matt, Dec 5th, 2008 @ 9:50pm

    Re: Coldplay Satriani Controversy

    While I'm thinking Joe Satriani should sue Coldplay to oblivion, you've got a good idea Mycroft. The only downside is I doubt he would. I mean come on, one of the greatest guitarists of all time teaming up with these dorks? I dunno.. I don't think it'd happen.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 5th, 2008 @ 9:52pm

    Because this situation is likely governed by the "Fair Use" rules of copyright law, it is difficult without more information to form an opinion concerning this matter. Certainly the similarity of the two works is striking, but the test under law concerning what is and what is not deemed an infringement does not admit to a comparison of merely musical snippets.

    That said, I see no useful purpose served by turning this into a contest of wills before a court of law. In many instances the extension and acceptance of an apology, together with proper credit, is all that is needed to lay an issue to rest. To the band: fess up, apologize, and give fair credit. To the guitarist: graciously accept, license its use after the fact without groveling for royalties.

    Life is too short to suit up for battle every time a situation like this arises. Time is better spent creating music for sale to music fans.

     

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    Blaise Alleyne (profile), Dec 5th, 2008 @ 9:54pm

    Re: Coldplay Satriani Controversy

    Best. Solution. Ever.

    I'd say they could duke it out in a guitarmageddon of sorts, but in order for that to work there'd have to be some sort chance that Coldplay would win...

     

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    Blaise Alleyne (profile), Dec 5th, 2008 @ 10:11pm

    Re:

    Because this situation is likely governed by the "Fair Use" rules of copyright law...

    Well, I don't think Coldplay will likely make a fair use argument, unless they can't prove independent creation and don't want to (/can't) settle.

    There seems to be three options, amongst the possible defenses:


    1. Coldplay argues it's a case of independent creation. This would exonerate them of the plagiarism claim, that they even ripped off the melody to begin with, and "clear their name." How they would prove this? I have no idea (not that I think it's necessarily impossible, I just don't have any real guesses, except for trying to suggest that it's highly plausible that they could have...)

    2. Coldplay argues de minimis copying, that the portion is so small as to be trivial. When you think about it, the core of the melody is three freaking notes. The third held, then a quick fourth and down to the super tonic. Then, the vocal melody diverges from the guitar riff (though the underlying chord is the same). At a super quick glance, that seems to be the argument here. I bet this approach could be used to suggest independent creation too (i.e. that the melody isn't necessarily a derivative, since it's such a small sample, only a few notes). *shrugs*

    3. Coldplay argues fair use, that the copying is so small (and that their song is hardly competing with Satriani's on the airwaves, or effecting its commercial viability, etc.) that it ought to be considered fair use. I think the fundamental problem with this defence is that it would admit to plagiarism. "Yes, we took the melody from your song, but it was only a small piece of the song." I don't think an artist would want to argue this, but maybe the defense could be a fall back if the other two approaches aren't successful.


    All that said... it's just conjecture. I'm no lawyer and I'm just guessing at things.

    That said, I see no useful purpose served by turning this into a contest of wills before a court of law. In many instances the extension and acceptance of an apology, together with proper credit, is all that is needed to lay an issue to rest. To the band: fess up, apologize, and give fair credit. To the guitarist: graciously accept, license its use after the fact without groveling for royalties.

    Agreed. Except, if Coldplay genuinely did not rip off Satriani and they're offended by the accusation. Settling would be the easiest way out, but if the band is offended, they might not want to settle and admit to doing something they didn't.

     

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    Blaise Alleyne (profile), Dec 5th, 2008 @ 10:24pm

    Re:

    Hey cram,

    Thanks. Long time, no talk!

    Interesting point. I think I through a link in the post to a YouTube video about a Zeppelin case of infringement. To be honest though, that was the first I heard of it, searching for video clips this afternoon.

    Talking to my cousin as I was writing up the article, she also brought up the case of white musicians blatantly ripping of the songs of black musicians earlier in the 20th century and passing them off as their own.

    It struck me that there are really a few distinctions that's a bit of a gradient here: covering => remixing => sampling => borrowing a piece of a song (e.g. a melody or a chord sequence).

    That list isn't complete, I'm not really considering lyrics much, or more transformative uses (like using a song as a soundtrack). I might be missing other things too.

    It seems like Coldplay is on one end of the spectrum, while Zeppelin is on the other (from what I know). Using a song someone else wrote is a clear case of infringement. Your song is their song. But using a melody that sounds similar, in a song that sounds different? That's not so clear.

    You can't really copyright a chord sequence, but you can copyright a song.

    Thoughts?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 5th, 2008 @ 11:23pm

    Re:

    After all, isn't imitation the sincerest form of flattery?

    It used to be, until the legal profession got involved. :)

     

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    Paul, Dec 6th, 2008 @ 12:04am

    Dumb Question:

    How few notes make a cord? a melody? a basic music progression?

    IF the law suit goes to Joe Satriani then create a vary clear problem. (follow me on this one)

    1.There are only so many cords that can be made, espically set to a specific rhythm.
    2.Given 1, only some of those will sound good
    3.Given 1 and 2, we have proven there is only a finite set of melodys that can be made that 1, use a specific rhythm, and set of notes and sounds good.

    Solution: the fight is over a basic building block of music and cant be illegal for the same reason a 3 note block cant be illegal, its to basic.

    Otherwise I would write a computer program to generate all possable melodys, write a song for each of them (or have a computer generate one for me) and then sue all new musical talent that comes after me because thay used something I made first.

    Wow!
    Step 1: generate all possable melodys
    step 2: write bad songs for all of them
    step 3: Sue all new songs for using my melody
    step 4: profit!

    God I hope someone tells the judge this.

     

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    Ben, Dec 6th, 2008 @ 1:14am

    I'm surprised nobody has mentioned that the chord progressions are not in fact the same. Somewhat similar, yes, but they are in fact not the same. They're not even in the same key.

    And for crying out loud, Viva La Vida has been altered in this video to fit with If I Could Fly. The song's playback speed is being modified so that the two line up. That makes for a great mashup, but a poor justification for a lawsuit.

    In either case, this lawsuit is a waste of time and should fail under any rational consideration. We're talking about 3/4 of a similar chord progression and most of a melody that happen to fit if you change key and manipulate your tempo. Even if Coldplay outright admits that they simply lifted the melody, Viva La Vida is significantly (and that's an understatement!) different from If I Could Fly that it would have absolutely no problem passing under fair use. Viva La Vida has been in heavy airplay for 6 months and this is the first time anyone has even noticed this. That fact alone is evidence enough that they are sufficiently dissimilar.

     

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    Blaise Alleyne (profile), Dec 6th, 2008 @ 1:59am

    Re:

    How few notes make a cord? a melody? a basic music progression?


    In Western music, you've typically got 12 notes in an octave, usually 7 of those in a scale. Chords, two notes I guess, though a standard chord is three. So yeah, obviously going to be a lot of overlap. Most pop songs are 3 or four chord songs.


    Solution: the fight is over a basic building block of music and cant be illegal for the same reason a 3 note block cant be illegal, its to basic.

    Otherwise I would write a computer program to generate all possable melodys, write a song for each of them (or have a computer generate one for me) and then sue all new musical talent that comes after me because thay used something I made first.


    Well, almost. With copyright infringement, you need to prove copying, not just similarity. Independent creation is a defense. If you came up with the exact some song as some one else, but you both can prove that you did so independently (e.g. no way you knew each other or each other's music), then there's no copyright infringement. (Were this patent law, independent invention is not a defense.)

    So, it's not that absurd, but yeah, you can easily step on someone else's toes without it actually being an act of copying.

     

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    Daniel Astor, Dec 6th, 2008 @ 2:07am

    Coldplay vs Joe S My sweet lord..He' so fine?

    Yes !! The same Melody.....But..
    Being an old washed up studio/club guitar player,
    " A fifty three year old working for FedEx now"
    I will still always cop, nick a chop or two, Or swipe a lick from one of the greats. Jimi - Beck - Clapton.
    As any real player will tell you, It's what you do with it. your timing and feel. You personally dig and feel the melody, and it sticks, in your head.
    Somewhere in you Soul.
    If you can expound upon it, well then F-it. It's new it's
    yours and It's Good!!

    Do it! Make it your's
    If it makes you feel good when you are playing it right
    In hopes that the un-inisheated (SP) will be hearing it and listing, Then your work in is done.

    And hopefully others will dig it.

    In this case, I feel this is an unintentional nick.
    I feel sorry for Coldplay. "By the way, Not a big fan but I know they are an amazing and very tight band"

    If you were to ask Coldplay's guitar player, I if he knew of, or heard of Mr.Satriani.
    He would say Yes!

    Ask him if he ever heard Joe Satriani's Tracks.
    Chances he would say "Yes"

    Unintentional? I say Maybe.
    I think that he was turning others onto to the melody that inspired Him and by in hopes that "you " the listener, would catch a vibe or catch a feel.

    I hear the same notes in the same key.
    The Same song?? ... No....
    The same four bars and notes? Yes!!
    You be the judge.
    Diz Astor

     

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    Mr Smith, Dec 6th, 2008 @ 2:51am

    The real source is a song from Doves

    A song called "Pounding" from Doves is the real source.

     

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    Ben, Dec 6th, 2008 @ 3:55am

    So Coldplay copied Satriani's If I Could Fly. Or Pounding from Doves. Or it's Alizee with J'en Ai Marre. Or Creaky Boards. Or Frances Limon by Enanitos Verdes.

    So now we have 5 different songs in 5 different styles and 3 different languages that various people across the internet are claiming Coldplay copied from.

    I swear to God, Zappa was right. The universe is filled to the brim with stupid.

     

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    Ima Fish, Dec 6th, 2008 @ 5:23am

    "Coldplay and Joe Satriani all have a similar melody over a similar chord sequence"

    To support your point, I did some lead guitar session work for a friend back in the early 90s. He gave me copies of the tracks he had already laid down without guitar solos and I came up with guitar solos for them.

    I went down to record them in the studio. At one point he got all geeked about the melody I chose for a solo because it was nearly the exact same one he attempted to do earlier. He had recorded it earlier so he played it back for me and he was right; we had independently came up with nearly the same guitar melody over the same chord progression.

     

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    observer, Dec 6th, 2008 @ 6:16am

    ASK THE QUESTION!

    I wonder if joe contaced them first and said hey, ah, you guys know that sounds alot like mys song, or did he just get his lawyers? Also, what was cold play's responce. Did they tell him to f*&^%$ off? or, did they never respond?That's what I would like to know?

     

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    MT, Dec 6th, 2008 @ 6:28am

    Coldplay copying Satriani

    Blaise, excellent note. I'm writing this as a mild fan of Coldplay's music.

    There are good reasons why I am not a copyright lawyer and this is one of them. There's not enough space to list the other 1934 reasons. There are only so many notes and times for the notes, but that said, there can be so many combination of it all. Yet, I've read in some good book I have some musician once said he could reduce all the melodies in the world into 7. That said, I'm not sure I'd buy into either extremes, and technical legalities that I'm not well informed about aside (whether by law or psychology to allow for subconscious lifting or songs to prove guilt or whatever), I can only go with my intuition.

    In this case, my intuition tells me whether Coldplay copied Joe or not, they should admit to the melody being the same and sort it out, and better yet, should have done so before it got into the court system cause if I were the judge, I'd rule with Joe. It is way too close to ignore, practically note for note, and would be note for note if Joe weren't such a talented guitarist to slip in more that Chris couldn't slip in so many words to a lyric. Joe's music is out there, niche audience or not, and I would factor this in because of the likelihood of having been heard rather than a random accidental occurrence of coincidence. And he had the material public before Coldplay is easy to prove, too.

    To me, with melodies this similar, and likely having been heard, intent to copy or not amounts to a difference between murder and manslaughter.

    Oh, and while we're on copying, Linda Rondstadt and James Ingram copied Beethoven's Pathetique Piano Sonata No. 8, middle movement, for their American Tale hit, Somewhere Out There. Coldplay would be better advised to rip off dead people whose music is in the public domain now. I've heard somewhere out there that Beethoven, Mozart et al, have written lots of great melodies. :-)

     

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    Dmitriy (profile), Dec 6th, 2008 @ 6:37am

    Pachabel

    The same copying has been done by a whole lot of other artists when they used the chord progression from Pachabel's Cannon in D. This youtube video does a great job summarizing it and providing a few laughs too. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JdxkVQy7QLM

     

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    Dave, Dec 6th, 2008 @ 8:53am

    Good story

    That's thought-provoking, thanks. I'm a guitarist and musician, and we do borrow from each other. I've thrown stuff out that I wrote because it sounded like something else, not because I thought I would be sued, but because I felt like I was pilfering. Yet, it is true that things can be borrowed without being aware that you're doing so.

    As to chord progressions alone, plagiarism really isn't usually there. If you attributed the 12-bar blues progression to one person, then 95% of blues tunes are plagiarized. When the melodies and harmony are similar, then you can make a case, as in this one.

    Ironically, I've always thought that Joe's playing was very good, but that his tunes sound like beer commercial background music - fairly lightweight, somewhat trite progressions and melodies.

    When you put these tunes side by side, there is a noticeable resemblance. It's close, but in this case I still think I would vote against Joe - his chord progression and melody aren't quite singular enough, whereas if his tune had some unique twists and turns, and Coldplay had copped that, Joe may have won hands down.

    But if the writers of She's So Fine can win vs. My Sweet Lord, I'm thinking the courts could side with Joe, but only if he can afford the fancy legal representation. The one with the most money generally wins, and Coldplay has deep pockets, I would assume.

     

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    K.M. Ensign, Dec 6th, 2008 @ 9:28am

    Re:

    3 noted make a chord, they are usually the 1st, 3rd, or 5th intervals, with extensions

    a melody is heard over the chords. it is usually in a higher register than the chords. think of a piano, the player plays the chords with their left hand (lower) and the melody with their right hand (higher)

    chord progressions are based off a key, but there are chord substitutions and key modulations that make it more complex. for the key of C major, think of the white keys on the piano, from C think of the notes as numbers:
    c=1
    d=2
    e=3
    f=4
    g=5
    a=6
    b=7
    c=8/1

    so a typical progression used by at least 10 million songs: 6-2-5-1. many jazz standards are based off this progression in some way. In this case, it translates to the chords: A minor, d minor, g/g7, C.

    keys are interchangeable. move it all up a half-step and you get the key of D flat. Move it all down a half-step, you get the key of B.

    make sense?

     

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    tk, Dec 6th, 2008 @ 9:35am

    Infinity

    Ok so, I don't know if you guys are kidding or not, but there are LITERALLY infinite musical varieties. 7 notes and all their variations (sharp,flat, etc.) x audible octaves x rhythm or timing x style. Style by the way is subjective and as varied as each person's fingerprint. You can't really calculate this equation by the way, basically equally an infinite integer.

    Style though is where we come into this situation. In the video posted on Youtube, they overlaid the longs, and rhythm was identical. leaving only the notes (identical) and the octave (can't tell), which sound similar to my very untrained ear. Looks pretty cut-and-dry to me!

     

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    bruce, Dec 6th, 2008 @ 9:42am

    coldplay sued by satriani

    "Honesty"....by Billy Joel possesses the same three note
    sequence and cadence...what's he been thinking?

     

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    bruce, Dec 6th, 2008 @ 9:56am

    coldplay sued by satriani

    woops...on further review it's 2-1-3, not 2-3-1...my bad...
    there you go though, just like Pwaul hesitated on Yesterday...If I was Martin I would be thinking I was similar
    to what I thought was an existing melody in my head...
    ...does anyone opine on if a riff can be copyrighted?

     

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    cram, Dec 6th, 2008 @ 9:56am

    Hi Blaise

    Yeah long time no chat...have been fighting my duels here with Mike and DanC, though:-)

    Unless you're ripping off an entire song, it becomes difficult to determine whether someone's ripping off someone else, and to what extent. As has been pointed out, a great many blues numbers resemble each other so much, one wonders if the genre would have evolved so much in a litigious environment.

    I think both parties should have just met up and sorted out issues and kept the lawyers out.

     

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    xpo, Dec 6th, 2008 @ 9:57am

    Cool, I didn't know Satriani put out an album "recently". But now I know... and now I own it. (MP3 of course)

     

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    Al, Dec 6th, 2008 @ 10:28am

    R.E.M. and Leonard Cohen

    In 2001, R.E.M. released their album "Up". After they recorded the fourth track, "Hope", they realized that the melody and lyrical pattern were very similar to Leonard Cohen's "Suzanne". Total coincidence, etc, etc. But they decided it would be best to give Cohen a writing credit.

     

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    MG, Dec 6th, 2008 @ 10:50am

    satrianis a whiner

    I think Mr. Satriani is one of the greatest well rounded guitarist of all time but it sounds to me like he is reaching for the stars here yes both songs do sound exactly alike!!!! but in this day and age where there are so many talented muscian in the world the odds must be very high that once and a while one muscian or another is going to hit upon the same chordal movements and rythyms in an approximation to the other. So instead of creating more turmoil and legal bullshit why not try and be a civilized human being and figure out some way to let everyone enjoy both muscians music!!!!!!!!!!!!!

     

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    Alex Hagen, Dec 6th, 2008 @ 11:26am

    One problem

    This lawsuit suffers from one bad presumption: it presumes that anyone actually listens to Satriani. Few people listened to him in the 80s, and calling him a has-been now would be charitable since he was actually kind of a never-was. The chances of anyone from Coldplay or Creaky Boards ever hearing this song are bordering on zero.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 6th, 2008 @ 11:54am

    Coldplay is a band for 13 year old teenage girls and Satriani is a horrible musician that guitar players respect for his technique.

    They both stink

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 6th, 2008 @ 12:48pm

    It sounds like a Church Hymn I heard last week. They should also give the Pope some credit.

     

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    mahtso, Dec 6th, 2008 @ 2:12pm

    George Harrison lost a copyright case on My Sweet Lord (He's So Fine); all the details escape me, but the ruling was unconscious-copying even though Mr. Harrison and others testified that they had developed/written the tune over time

     

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    Ajax, Dec 6th, 2008 @ 2:33pm

    Re: Coldplay Satriani Controversy

    Your "can't we all just get along" approach to the Coldpaly Satriani controversy is an all to typical solution for all those who never have any skin in the game. The value of an atisits creation is gauged by those elements that make it unique. The specialness and appeal of those unique elements are what distinguish a remarkable work from an unremarkable one. By stealing Satriani's unique elements Coldpaly dilutes the value of his remarkable work to enrich thier own unremarkable work. Satriani as not only a right but a reposiblity to protect his unique and valuable music from bands like Coldpaly who admit to plagirism for thier own benifit.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 6th, 2008 @ 2:51pm

    i agree

     

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    Davek, Dec 6th, 2008 @ 4:00pm

    Re: Coldplay Satriani Controversy

    How should Coldplay reply if they've never heard the Satriani piece? I listen to a lot of music. I hadn't heard it until today.

     

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    Scott, Dec 6th, 2008 @ 4:44pm

    Non Issue

    REM's "Departure" from New Adventure's in Hi-Fi has the same riff as Billy Squire's "Everybody Wants You". Does anyone really care?

     

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    Ky, Dec 6th, 2008 @ 4:56pm

    Fame

    "The difference is that the Creaky Boards didn't sue. They made a cheeky video and used the opportunity to get some attention (also, later retracting the statement after Coldplay refuted it)."

    Satriani isn't in it for the fame. His music is his passion and his fans are hardcore. This is clear plagarism and Coldplay should pay out the ass. The funny part is their several Grammy nominations for this album are headed by this rip-off...it's disgusting.

     

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    Ky, Dec 6th, 2008 @ 5:00pm

    Re: One problem

    If you have seen a live Satriani show in the past 8 years or a G3 performance, it's hard to believe you could refer to him as a has-been.

    Given his stellar releases of Engines of Creation, Strange Beautiful Music, Is There Love in Space?, Super Colossal, and Prof. Satch albums post-dating the year 2000, this claim seems empty. Some of his best EVER work has been released since the turn of the century, and his fan base is growing, not declining.

    Any guitarist knows Joe Satriani, including the underutilized guitarist in Coldplay. To claim that musicians don't know who Joe Satriani is ludicrous, the guy is a legend, and a compositional genius.

     

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    Phil, Dec 6th, 2008 @ 5:05pm

    Re: Finite number of melodies?

    Lucky for us that's completely wrong.

    Take just sequence 3 different notes (1-2-3) and you can play dozen of variations. Tempo, rhythm, pauses, articulation, dynamics... emotion, message.

    Then include lyrics, chord progressions, arrangement, tonality, different instruments.

    Only this gives you endless possibilities.

    Then try to play twice second note (1-2-2-3)....

     

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    Kia, Dec 6th, 2008 @ 5:08pm

    I don't think so

    Wow, I have to say...Satriani is REALLY grasping at straws. There are definitely some similarities, but...wow.

     

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    Mike (profile), Dec 6th, 2008 @ 5:18pm

    Re: Fame

    This is clear plagarism and Coldplay should pay out the ass.

    How can you say it's "clear plagiarism?" From everything that's been pointed out here, it seems quite unlikely that it's plagiarism.

    The funny part is their several Grammy nominations for this album are headed by this rip-off...it's disgusting.

    Why it is either funny or disgusting? Even if we granted your highly questionable premise that this song is a copy, then shouldn't you be happy that it's about to get Satriani a lot more attention? Perhaps Coldplay just helped promote Satriani to a new audience?

     

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    Blaise Alleyne (profile), Dec 6th, 2008 @ 6:47pm

    Re: Re: Coldplay Satriani Controversy

    By stealing Satriani's unique elements Coldpaly dilutes the value of his remarkable work to enrich thier own unremarkable work.

    Woah, woah. I'd like to hear this one. How is the value of Satriani's work diluted? Do you honestly thing that people are going out to buy Viva La Vida instead of If I Could Fly? Do you think Coldplay is competing with Satriani, that If I Could Fly might be a hit single if it weren't for Coldplay?

    I mean, there's an integrity issue here if Coldplay is passing off Satriani's work as their own, but how is the value of Satch's work affected?

     

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    Blaise Alleyne (profile), Dec 6th, 2008 @ 6:54pm

    Re:

    Agreed, I would hope it could have been resolved without getting this nasty.

     

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    Kathleen Williamson, Dec 6th, 2008 @ 6:54pm

    copyright and unconscious plagiarism

    This is not unlike George Harrison's "My Sweet Lord" and the Dixie Cup's "He's So Fine." There, the court did find infringement, though unintentional by Harrison. I think today the court might rule differently. It is very subjective. Harrison's case also dealt with three basic notes as the melody hook. Like Satriani's case, basically, the notes under the hook of both songs were the same. The treatments of the two songs were also very different, not unlike here where one has lyrics and the other is instrumental. Harrison's was a 70's hare krishna rock spiritual and the Dixie Cups was a doodlang doodlang doodang 50's hairspray heterosexist chick 45rpm. I bet today you'll find lots of songs with these three notes as the hook in Coldplay/Satriani. The case will probably settle simply because its cheaper to do so than to litigate the question and it's really a gamble as to who will prevail.
    that's my two cents.
    disclaimer: lawyers are like bookies - on our best day we can only give you about 80% odds.
    Kathleen

     

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    spider robinson, Dec 6th, 2008 @ 7:14pm

    Re: Robert Heinlein

    Spider wrote this, not Heinlein. They were contemporaries, and Spider dedicated the story to Robert's wife, Virginia.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 6th, 2008 @ 7:49pm

    This is clear plagarism and Coldplay should pay out the ass.

    How can you say it's "clear plagiarism?" From everything that's been pointed out here, it seems quite unlikely that it's plagiarism.

    The funny part is their several Grammy nominations for this album are headed by this rip-off...it's disgusting.

    Why it is either funny or disgusting? Even if we granted your highly questionable premise that this song is a copy, then shouldn't you be happy that it's about to get Satriani a lot more attention? Perhaps Coldplay just helped promote Satriani to a new audience?

    ...That was my point. For Satch, I don't think it's about being promoted to a new audience, I think it's about the feeling of having something stolen from him. It's easy to pick out and point out differences among the two, but when you take the most notable portions of the songs, they are overwhelmingly similar. You're avoiding the principle of the matter.

     

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    Keyz, Dec 6th, 2008 @ 11:01pm

    Cat Stevens' Love / Heaven

    Just found this on another page discussing the same issue:
    http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=uUXda-RTE_c
    Listen from about 3:18 onward.

    If Coldplay copied Satriani... then Satriani just as likely copied Cat Stevens. Or Colplay heard Cat Stevens and wasn't aware of Satriani's melody, which in turn is Cat Stevens' melody (who obviously wrote it first... 1973). Or much more likely - they all came up with the same thing. I've been a musician for about 20 years, have a degree in music, and am absolutely certain I've played a variety of similar melodies to this too while improvising. A chord progression often suggests "the right notes" to go along with it, even more so when paired with rhythm. Also sometimes you hear the overtones suggest additional notes that aren't actually being played, which leads to a melody or harmony part. Sometimes while just messing around with a chord progression someone walks by and asks me, hey are you playing "insert song name here"... and I say, no - I was just playing some random chords. Randomly played rhythms can occur in the same way.

    In any key the Coldplay song is essentially... IVmaj V7 Imaj IIImin. Hmm same as about 80% or more of all modern music. The melody note starts on the major 7th, a nice common place to start. If you simply started by playing IVmaj7 in root position, then to a simple triad on V7, then to a rootless Imaj9 (simple and common), then move the bass note up to the minor third under the same chord.... throw in a bit of basic syncopated 8th note rhythm while you do it... whoops you just accidently played the chords AND the majority of the melody of "Viva La Vida"... er I mean "If I Could Fly".... wait no... "Love / Heaven"... drat!

    I enjoy aspects of both Joe's and Colplay's music. I think it's too bad that Joe has decided to make an issue of this (especially in light of Cat Stevens obviously recording it far before Joe did). I think the existence of the Cat Stevens song is actually going to backfire on Joe and put him in the spot he thought he was putting Coldplay. I can't speak for everyone, but I know if someone quoted a portion of one of my songs (which are in a number of films) I would be pleased to see the new interesting things that evolved from that musical idea. I'd be proud that a bit of my music had inspired and spun off into new interesting directions. If someone were to steal my whole song and called it their own, then sure I'd be upset about that, but this isn't even in the same ballpark. Though a complete song may be my property and my livelihood, music itself isn't my own - it's a gift that I have the honor of sharing.

     

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    Keyz, Dec 6th, 2008 @ 11:17pm

    Re: Cat Stevens' Love / Heaven - forgot one thing

    Forgot to mention...

    One additional potential angle:

    It's possible that Coldplay was completely aware of Satriani's melody and blatantly drew inspiration from it (though still making a clearly new and unique song, one worth writing), doing so only because they also were completely aware (given this scenario) that Satriani's melody was clearly inspired by Cat Stevens' melody (and they may have assumed that Joe was aware of this too, since it's instantly obvious given even the most brief listening). They therefore may have believed that Joe would not have any problem with them deriving clear inspiration from BOTH his and Cat Stevens' melody, continuing on the line of creative development of the same melodic idea. If this scenario is correct though, clearly Joe was not as "in" on the inside creative joke as Coldplay assumed he was.

     

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    Mojo Bone, Dec 6th, 2008 @ 11:24pm

    "Honesty" isn't really even close, the Satch/Coldplay melody is a descending melody line, the "Honesty" hook is ascending. I believe Joe has a pretty good case, but I expect this'll be settled before it gets to a jury.

    There are thousands upon thousands of potential melodies even given a limited number of notes, once you factor in rhythm and repetition, but it's also true that in a given key, there are only so many things one can play that sound good, feel good and are easily executed while leaping about the stage like a drunken dervish.This is why we have cliches.

    This sort of thing gets people talking about music, introduces Coldplay and Satriani fans to each other, serves as free publicity for both, and I think that's a good result, regardless of the outcome of any lawsuit.

     

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    Billy, Dec 7th, 2008 @ 1:30am

    Re: Coldplay Satriani Controversy

    Do you think a Coldplay audience would have a clue who had just risen onto the stage?

     

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    LVBass, Dec 7th, 2008 @ 1:52am

    Re: This is why copyright laws are lame

    You sign over the right to your intellectual property when you sign your employment contract. You don't keep getting paid but your employer keeps earning income so someone does keep profiting. Same as a patent.

     

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    manstein, Dec 7th, 2008 @ 6:51am

    Even coincidences are copy right infringements. This case need not be about outright theft, though to most that would be the implication. There simply was an original work already copyrighted and coldplay's version is not sufficiently different from that original work. My opinion? coldplays's writers were aware of Satriani's song and, at best, were influenced by it to say the least.

     

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    mike allen, Dec 7th, 2008 @ 6:59am

    Re: Coldplay Satriani Controversy

    this would certainly be a great way to settle and one that would give both sides a return rather than the only winners of this suit the lawyers.
    Come on guys get with it and think of your fans.

     

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    mike allen, Dec 7th, 2008 @ 7:04am

    Re: Re: Coldplay Satriani Controversy

    i work in broadcasting an i not heard it either.

     

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    Easily Amused, Dec 7th, 2008 @ 7:53am

    re: #55/56

    Bravo Keyz!

    I have been a musician of some sort since I was 8yrs old, and while I have never devoted the time and energy needed to make a career out of it, this is the attitude that every artist should exemplify. It is the height of arrogance to think that a melody you create is truly a unique little snowflake that the world has never heard before. It's not coincidence that that major chord progressions tend to sound 'happy' and minor ones tend to sound 'sad'. The frequencies involved can evoke a basic emotion without lyrics, or the context of a movie screen, etc. Other cultures that have wildly different structures to their ancestral music, completely removed from the family tree of western musicality, will occasionally reproduce a melody that is identical to a modern pop song.

    It's how you shape and color that melody to make it your own that matters. I don't listen to Satriani much, it's not my personal taste, but I recognize his virtuosity and hope that he continues expressing his amazing talent. Coldplay catches a lot of criticism from "real musicians" who think their work is derivative at best, but some of their songs at least are very imaginative and I do enjoy listening to them from time to time.

    I hope this mess brings a few new fans to Satriani that have never been exposed to him, and I hope that both parties can tell the lawyers to STFU and come to a reasonable arrangement that massages the bruised egos and gets them back in the studio to create more music.

     

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    kat, Dec 7th, 2008 @ 8:24am

    come on, really....

    I am a huge coldplay fan, and I think that its really sad that now people are picking on them because of something they very well may have done unintentionally! Satriani is looking for attention and is probably just jealous. I won't deny that the songs sound similar, but you people are acting like Satrini is Queen and Coldplay are Vanilla Ice!! How would you people feel if this was you being written about so horribly? I think that with the exception of a few people who posted here, you people are all to stupid to decipher the meanings behind their songs. That is very sad, and doubly because there are all these people that "have always hated them" but probably have never heard of them. I say tho leave coldplay alone, and come on, really...be mature about this!

     

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    chris, Dec 7th, 2008 @ 8:52am

    Oasis

    all artists steal, most of Oasis music is just a cut and paste..

     

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    rio, Dec 7th, 2008 @ 9:00am

    come onnn

    Joe satriani is faggot

     

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    EP from Songzilla, Dec 7th, 2008 @ 9:02am

    Sum of the Parts works better than division of the booty

    beware the "muse" in music

    If you ask creative people where their ideas come from, I bet in many cases they are not entirely sure. Perhaps you hear Joe Satriani playing in the background when you are out somewhere and it seeps into your subconscious. A month later you are in the studio, someone plays a simple set of chords, the sames chords Joe played over, and you start singing the Satriani melody. Standing on the shoulders of others applies beyond science.

    As far as guitarists, most, perhaps Joe Satriani excepted, steal 80% from other guitarists, in fact they teach each other their riffs.

    So how purely original is anyone's music?

    That said, these sound a bit too close, so I think they ought to work something out based on:

    -- Joe Satriani's melody is nice, but not rocket science or groundbreaking
    -- Coldplay is basically using the Joe Satriani melody
    -- They play different styles of music & appeal to two different audiences, so a sale of Cold Play's song does not preclude a sale of Joe Satriani's song
    -- Coldplay has a better ability to monetize the melody

    What should they do? Use this controversy to promote the hell out of both songs (both are good IMO). Maybe stage "song fight" appearances together. Maybe record a version together. Work out a deal where Joe gets something out of the Coldplay song.

    But not all profits, that's silly. Most of Coldplay's profits (but in this case maybe not 100%) are the direct result of what Coldplay does so well: play and market their music in a way that connects with a large audience.

    Frankly, I have neither track, but would like to have both now. Joe Satriani just might pick up some sales of his music from this publicity.

     

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    Ferrum Mann, Dec 7th, 2008 @ 10:49am

    Too close to call

    I'm with Keyz. The progression is a most common one. You can find hundreds if not thousands of recorded songs although pitched and timed differently are basically the same. You can use software to confirm this.

    What is left to prove is that Coldplay intentionally copied Satch's piece. But listening ALONE to the song superimpressed on the other would not help Joe's case. Its borderline and could go either way.

    Unlike Huey Lewis and the News' "I Want a New Drug" vs. Ray Parker Jr.'s "Ghostbusters".

     

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    Blaise Alleyne (profile), Dec 7th, 2008 @ 12:28pm

    Re:

    Coincidences aren't copyright infringement. Copyright infringement, legally, requires proof of copying. If two people come up with the example same thing independently, there is no copyright infringement.

    (With patents, on the other hand, there is no independent creation defense. If someone comes up with the same patented thing independently, they are still guilty of patent infringement. Luckily, no one has been crazy enough to apply patents to melodies.)

     

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    Blaise Alleyne (profile), Dec 7th, 2008 @ 12:31pm

    Re: Re: Coldplay Satriani Controversy

    Probably not, but then they might be interested in learning more about him after hearing him play.

     

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    Blaise Alleyne (profile), Dec 7th, 2008 @ 12:34pm

    Re: Re: This is why copyright laws are lame

    You sign over the right to your intellectual property when you sign your employment contract.

    I think ScoLgo was referring to non-IP work. If you're work isn't IP (e.g. pushing paper, answering phones, running meetings, managing employees, etc...), then you don't keep getting paid for work you've done in the past. You get paid for doing work.

    You don't keep getting paid but your employer keeps earning income so someone does keep profiting. Same as a patent.

    And copyrights and patents are supposed to be about protecting artists and inventors... *sigh*

     

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    Blaise Alleyne (profile), Dec 7th, 2008 @ 12:46pm

    Re:

    ... when you take the most notable portions of the songs, they are overwhelmingly similar. You're avoiding the principle of the matter.

    Mike mentioned "everything that's been pointed out here" -- have you listened to any of the other songs people have mentioned? The Pounding by Doves, Honesty by Billy Joel, Love / Heaven by Cat Stevens? If the "principle of the matter" is that the two melodies are "overwhelmingly similar," what about all these other similar melodies?

     

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    Rob B., Dec 7th, 2008 @ 1:33pm

    Two things to prove...

    Satch has to prove two things:

    1. The songs need to be similar... and yes, they do share similar main themes.

    2. Coldplay has to have the means in which to intentionally plagiarize -- they have to have HEARD this song at one time or another. Who else has heard this song before? Certainly not me, and I actually WAS a Satch fan at one point.

    George Harrison got sued by the Chiffons for My Sweet Lord / He's So Fine because that was a major hit song. George himself admitted that he had heard the song at least in passing. Busted.

    This is not necessarily the case with Coldplay. Have they heard of Satch, maybe. Have they heard this song? Not unless they own the album. Satch doesn't really put out singles (besides "Summer Song"). Bottom line, unless they can prove that a songwriter in the band is a Satriani fan, they're not going to win the case.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 7th, 2008 @ 1:35pm

    Poking holes in an already empty balloon

    There is only one way to stop Coldplay's arrogance, and that's with Joe Satriani's arrogance.

    Who will win?
    Well, if these guys decide to let it continue through court, I hope they realize long term effects are a horrible, and neither will win. (Read: Yes Joe, I hope your financial guy looked at all the profits from this single song, and have someone sign off that they will take care of you for the next 30 years, because being known as a "bully" travels fast throughout your industry.)

    Taking this position is lethal. Will anyone work with you again? Think about Metallica. It's been almost a decade since they filed their last lawsuit, and to this day, there's diehard fans who still won't buy their work.

    So telling everyone who listens to Coldplay albums to go fuck themselves isn't a way to enhance your brand or name.

    Joe:
    Quite simply, you listened and took advice from the wrong person. Why not call up Coldplay's manager and see if you can work with them.

     

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    alan, Dec 7th, 2008 @ 2:37pm

    the safest course of action for any band in today's legal climate is to write only tunes that are variations of melodies from pre-modern copyright times. The Baroque era in particular is a wellspring of beautiful musical ideas. So anytime some starving Satriani sues your successful band, you can always go to court and state, 'we didn't copy Satch, we copied Bach, so mmpphhh to ya'.

     

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    Tomas Vrana, Dec 7th, 2008 @ 2:51pm

    Joe's totally out and his music should be deeply sued for any aparent plagiarism

    This is embarrassing. I'd bet Joe just dislikes the way it sounds when played by Coldplay. There's so many guy's that let the others to milk their stuff. I hope Joe will get kicked off because since he's right to get any compensations, there's a monster underground and everyone is got to watch damn out to what inspires them.
    There's just a lot of stuff that shares similar elements and there can't be exact matrix to perfectly define what's significant.
    If anyone finds whatever familiar in Joe's music, please sue him!!))

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 7th, 2008 @ 2:51pm

    Mycroft hit the nail on the head. Use it for the greater good.

     

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    PrimitiveLyric, Dec 7th, 2008 @ 3:09pm

    Satch has good grounds

    Legally, I would say Satch as pretty good grounds to win as it definately is the same tempo, same chord progression, same basic melody. Satch embellishes the melody, of course, but they share the exact same basic melody.

    Now whether or not the songwriter actually heard Satch's tune in the past, who knows, but if he did, it would probably be something that his subconscious picked up on and I doubt he went out to say "let's rip off Satch and put words to one of his tunes."

    It will be interesting to see what happens.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 7th, 2008 @ 3:14pm

    Re:

    Interesting idea.
    Please provide more detail.

     

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    PrimitiveLyric, Dec 7th, 2008 @ 3:16pm

    Re: This is why copyright laws are lame

    You make a good point: there are only 12 notes in the western scale, however it is what you do with those notes that makes it original. Think about all the different types of western music that incorporate those 12 notes and how much of it sounds similar like in this context? Not much (I'm not talking about songs like Barry Manilow taking classical tunes and putting them to seventies stylings).

    If we didn't have copyright laws, we would probably have much more music which sounds similar.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 7th, 2008 @ 3:38pm

    Re: Coldplay Satriani Controversy

    Hell with that!! I want my chickenfoot!

    Chickenfoot@ Rolling Stone

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 7th, 2008 @ 3:55pm

    Re: Re: Coldplay Satriani Controversy

    You're a big man to be using Rolling Stone as a reference point for some "Chicken foot" silliness. While you fight over bullshit like this, other bands are being discovered to take your place.

    Thanks for the info on what's important in your mind. I'll stick with what's important in my audience's mind.

     

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    asdf, Dec 7th, 2008 @ 5:59pm

    one must also note the identical key and tempo

     

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    I Agree, Dec 7th, 2008 @ 7:01pm

    Re: Coldplay Satriani Controversy

    I totally agree. It's a simple enough melody and chord progression that it really could have been an accident. Whether you like either artist or not, why make the lawyers rich and clog up the court system even more over something that could instead be a really cool collaboration.

     

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    Keyz, Dec 7th, 2008 @ 8:37pm

    The key and tempo of both songs are adjusted to match up in the video

    To those who are mentioning that "the key and tempo of the songs are identical"... they are NOT actually identical but have been modified to fit together in the video. Please listen to each actual song individually (if you don't have them, check the previews on iTunes or other music stores which both have the relevant parts of the music)... they are at different tempos and in different keys: the real key of "Viva La Vida" is Ab, and is at about 140 bmp, and the real "If I Could Fly" is in the key of D at about 130 bpm. The key of Ab is "roughly" as far away from the key of D as you can get. The tempo of both are in the same range as almost every other mildly upbeat song. I don't have time to outline in detail but there are also substantial other differences that anyone trained in music theory and composing could pick out.

    The creator of this video used software to superimpose them together and change the tempo/keys to match each other (this is very easy to do with most music production software). My personal favorite (in case anyone might find it useful for learning songs) is Amazing Slow Downer, which unlike slowing down or speeding up a tape, is capable of changing tempo without adjusting pitch, or pitch without adjusting tempo. In the video, "Viva La Vida" has been shifted up a half step to the key of D instead of Db, and also seemed to be slowed down by at least 3-4 bpm (subtle, but makes it easier to make both songs meet in the middle). "If I Could Fly" is transposed all the way down to the key of A, a 4th interval below the original key of D. Now, the chord progressions of the two songs are actually in different but complimentary keys, so they mesh together well. The tempo of "If I Could Fly" is sped up by 4 or so bpm, bringing both adjusted songs together. The melody of "If I Could Fly" now starts on the major 7th of the key of D (D is the tonal center of the mashup song), the same way as Coldplay's song... however, "If I Could Fly" in the original key of D does NOT start on the major 7th. It starts on the major 3rd - and is therefore a COMPLETELY different melody, made up of an entirely different sequence of notes. That maj 7th - root - 6 or maj 3rd - 4 - 2 have a similar feel which is what catches your ear and is probably the strongest factor in making the songs sound similar.

    Having listened more carefully today to the real recording of "If I Could Fly" rather than the video's altered version, I've now realized that it is actually "not" the same chord progression either. "If I Could Fly" has the progression of IImin V7 Imaj IIImin, which is the absolutely most common progression of all time (makes up countless songs, especially jazz, used often in rock/pop, latin, and countless other styles). Coldplay's first chord is clearly the simplified sound of the IVmaj rather than the IImin. The IImin V7 Imaj progression is actually not really even a progression that "someone came up with"... it is actually an integral part of one of the core elements of music theory, the Circle of 4ths / Circle of 5ths. Just playing chords in order around the circle, counter-clockwise (4ths), automatically creates this progression over and over in every key. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Circle_of_fifths

    One other thing I've noted is that at least one other band has pointed this song out and said Coldplay copied them... which leads me to believe that this is just a melody that "had to happen" (also considering what I mentioned before about certainly having improvised similar melodies myself too over the years).

    Anyhow, having worked out this music theory a bit, now I'm even more certain that Joe has very little case (if he had any at all in light of Cat Stevens' song, "Love / Heaven ... again, http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=uUXda-RTE_c at about 3:18). I'm sure among everything else, they will outline these same music theory details in court.

    Anyhow, I hope my little music theory experiment has been helpful in shedding light on this (it was fun anyhow haha). Now, I'm going to go improvise for a while over some II-V-I voicings :D

     

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    Keyz, Dec 7th, 2008 @ 8:58pm

    small correction... Ab to A not Db to D

    Whoops just noticed an error right as I submitted, and couldn't edit my post to correct it... in the second paragraph I wrote Db to D and meant to write Ab to A. This actually brings the two songs in the mashup from their original different keys, completely into the same key of A ("Viva La Vida" from Ab to A, and "If I Could Fly" all the way from D down to A, as mentioned).

     

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    Jo N, Dec 7th, 2008 @ 9:02pm

    Joe Satriani and Cold Play

    I'm a big fan of both. So take the high road you guys- Give a concert together and donate the proceeds to charity!

     

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    Keyz, Dec 7th, 2008 @ 9:07pm

    Re: small correction... Ab to A not Db to D

    Whew I need to go to bed haha (3 hrs sleep last night - bla). My earlier mistake brought me to the wrong conclusion that the songs have a different starting melody note. They actually do both begin on the 3rd of their respective key centers. Apologies. The rest of my points should still be accurate.

     

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    Dan, Dec 7th, 2008 @ 9:37pm

    The fact of the matter is. There is sooo much music out there, that lines are going to get crossed in melodies to the point that where it will almost be impossible to make an original sounding composition. (inhales).

    I think Joe needs to take a breath and realize that he's not the only one, and won't be the last. I mean has anyone listened to the new Airbourne album? It wreaks of Judas Priest and AC/DC but I don't see them suing. It's fun, it's Rock and Roll, Get over it Joe.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 7th, 2008 @ 9:53pm

    The mashup is pretty good!

     

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    Blaise Alleyne (profile), Dec 7th, 2008 @ 10:35pm

    Re: Re: This is why copyright laws are lame

    If we didn't have copyright laws, we would probably have much more music which sounds similar.

    I doubt that. Did everything sound the same before copyright laws?

     

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    Paul Brinker, Dec 7th, 2008 @ 10:52pm

    Why are we fighting over a video thats been faked anyway, could we get an update that the posted video has been edited to make it sound the same?

    If anything we should see how well the 2 song sheets match up. Because if we cant find a spot where the 2 melodys overlap (past a single note) or move up and down at the same time, then the whole thing should get tossed out as silly.

    Why are we even doing this by sound in the first place?

     

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    Keyz, Dec 7th, 2008 @ 11:13pm

    Joe Satriani + Cat Stevens...

    I went ahead and quickly "mashed up" Joe Satriani's "If I Could Fly", with Cat Stevens' "Love / Heaven", using the same kind of key and tempo adjustments that were used to merge Satriani's and Coldplay's songs.

    It's rough since I don't want to spend hours on it and only have a small snippet of low quality audio to work with, not the whole songs, but it gets the point across.

    Joe Satriani's "If I Could Fly", merged with Cat Stevens' "Love / Heaven"

     

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    Mike (profile), Dec 8th, 2008 @ 1:22am

    Re: Joe Satriani + Cat Stevens...

    I went ahead and quickly "mashed up" Joe Satriani's "If I Could Fly", with Cat Stevens' "Love / Heaven", using the same kind of key and tempo adjustments that were used to merge Satriani's and Coldplay's songs.

    Nice work! I wonder if the guys vehemently defending Satriani and yelling at Coldplay, will now do the same, defending Cat Stevens and yelling at Satriani?

     

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    Axe, Dec 8th, 2008 @ 1:35am

    I will say I am a fan of both artists. I have been a Satch fan since buying the Vinyl version of SWTA before CD's came out.

    Regards

     

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    Ben, Dec 8th, 2008 @ 2:09am

    So now we're up to 7 unique pop songs with similar melodies in spots. And people are still arguing about this?

     

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    Blaise Alleyne (profile), Dec 8th, 2008 @ 2:32am

    Re: Joe Satriani + Cat Stevens...

    Nice!

     

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    SteveD, Dec 8th, 2008 @ 2:35am

    Re: Joe Satriani and Cold Play

    Now that would be awesome. Coldplay have a couple of December gigs coming up... Satriani should jump onto stage half way through the song and pull off a kickass guitar solo.

    Sadly, I don't think this is about artistic integrity. The albums been out for 6 months, and it can't be coincidence that Satriani's lawyers brought this up just before the grammy's.

    This might not even be anything to do with Satriani but those who own and control the rights to his work.

     

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    Dominic Sayers, Dec 8th, 2008 @ 2:46am

    A practical demonstration

    For a practical demonstration of how difficult it is to come up with new chord sequences and melodies, check out this masterpiece from the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain: http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=OP7F8P1ZtD0 Five (or is it six) famous songs sung simultaneously over a riff from Handel.

     

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    Keyz, Dec 8th, 2008 @ 2:57am

    Another

    Haha... found another, also predates Satriani's song, 2002... about 35 seconds in:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G57CgtX-BsI

    Sorry Satriani, this is going to turn sour for you if you stick with this argument. My brother and I have been having a grand time this evening flipping through songs and pointing out the same chord progression and passably similar melodies :) I'm sure the songs will keep piling up. I can imagine the court day... "Your honor, I'd like to present these 150 songs to the court" :)

    I agree... he should make some friendly appearances at Coldplay concerts, playing along with Viva La Vida. Hopefully it's just the lawyers/label causing this mess and he can sweep up their mess.

     

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    SteveD, Dec 8th, 2008 @ 3:40am

    Not an 'original' work, then

    It won't stick because its technically not original, as the lawsuit clearly states. Just one earlier example of the same tune is enough to prove that.

     

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    Evan, Dec 8th, 2008 @ 3:40am

    I'm willing to bet...

    ...that the melody from Satriani's song, that Coldplay allegedly copied, has been used before in another musician's recording.

    Hell, every story I've ever read has basically been a rehash of one of Shakespeare's works.

    Also - there's a clip of a comedian out there somewhere who plays Pachelbel's Canon on the guitar while singing almost every popular song from the past twenty years (I'm being hyperbolic) over the chord progression of Pachelbel's original, and every single song he sings follows Canon in D Major's chord progression.

    The point I'm trying to make is - well, if you don't see the point, then it's already too late for you.

     

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    Paul Boshears, Dec 8th, 2008 @ 4:26am

    Doesn't this simply show how insipid both musical acts are? But, to maybe contribute more positively; in the East Asian tradition, were an art work to enter a respected household or a dynasty it would be considered enriching the art work were the owner to place his official stamp upon said work. Thus the community and the work are both expanded; ownership is meaningless in this context and yet does not diminish the authoritativeness of the originator. We must find a similar sensibility.

     

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    tbell, Dec 8th, 2008 @ 4:40am

    They should tour together

    They should tour together. His guitar riff adds something to the song.

     

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    Lucretious, Dec 8th, 2008 @ 5:13am

    Satriani has a payday coming......that really is a blatant rip-off.

     

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    crimsonkimono, Dec 8th, 2008 @ 5:50am

    lol

    i thought they stole it from him before i even heard any of the creaky boards crap. it was funny i consider myself a pretty big fan of Joe and i was floored when i heard it. i thought where have i heard this melody before! and i looked up coldplay and saw the creaky boards crap and then remembered ah JOE SATRIANI! hes got a chance tho. the melody is eerily similar.. the rolling stones are well known for suing artists for similarities.. Led Zeppelin was sued for Whole Lotta love by page's old band the Yardbirds.. Queen sued Vanilla Ice for the melody to Under Pressure so... its quite possible Joe will have a winner. it kinda sucks because i used to have a lot of respect for coldplay but i've found that a lot of their songs even songs i didnt pay much attention to before sound similar to other songs i have heard. such as Clocks... it reminds me of an older song Caviar & Champagne.. its old but this dutch guy Peter Van Wood.

     

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    MSahlgren, Dec 8th, 2008 @ 6:29am

    I think they both rip off The Descendents

    That melody is SO simple I'm quite confident that Coldplay could beat the rap by easily finding a dozen or so other songs with the same or very similar melody. I'll do it for them if they want to pay me.
    Hmmm. I'd start with The Descendents, The Cure, OMD, TV's Greatest Themes, and some Windham Hill new age crap and finish my search somewhere in Woody Guthrie territory.

     

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    Adam, Dec 8th, 2008 @ 7:47am

    Pachelbel

    I saw musician/comedian Rob Paravonian do a song about Pachelbel's Canon in D, in which he claimed that every musical genre did Pachelbel at some point. He played the chord progression on guitar, and sang a medley along with it that included: The Beatles, Bush, Green Day, The theme from the movie "The Legend of Billy Jack", Blues Traveller, Aerosmith, Matchbox 20, Green Apple Quickstep, and U2. All completely different songs over the same chord progression. Would Dido be as big without Eminem's sample of her song for "Stan"? Seriously we need to stop being so lawyer happy and get over ourselves! I hope Satriani loses big time!

     

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    nasch, Dec 8th, 2008 @ 8:15am

    Re: Re: Re: This is why copyright laws are lame

    I thought they were supposed to be about promoting progress and creation...

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 8th, 2008 @ 8:39am

    Re: Re: Re: This is why copyright laws are lame

    WRONG!!

    Copyright was created and intended to give artists incentive to create more works.

    It was *NEVER* intended to be be a source of legacy income or "welfare" for artists.

    The idea was that they get paid a small amount for their works so that they can continue to create more works without having to drop their creative streak in favor of an actual paying, productive job. The intent was to allow them to continue doing their creative work, not to set them up so they can score 1 hit and live off of it the rest of their lives.

     

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    Crusty Dwells, Dec 8th, 2008 @ 10:40am

    Coldplay/Satriani

    In my opinion, it still seems reasonable that it is a coincidence. From start to finish, the songs are pretty different. I'm an old Satch fan, and only a recent Coldplay convert (REALLY disliked their first CD).

    But what really bothers me is that, ever since I first heard Viva La Vida, I swear that the chorus (" I hear Jerusalem Bells a ringing...") is similar to the chorus of a 1960's US pop song with female vocals. I have wracked my brain to find the name of that song or remember the exact lyrics, but I am positive that the melody from that 60s song (stuck in my head) is similar to the VLV chorus. Does anyone else have a similar recollection??

     

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    Blaise Alleyne (profile), Dec 8th, 2008 @ 11:04am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: This is why copyright laws are lame

    Yes, sorry, I was being a bit sarcastic.

     

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    Leesa G, Dec 8th, 2008 @ 1:55pm

    Re: Coldplay Satriani Controversy

    very good assessment...I would scream!

     

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    TempoMental, Dec 8th, 2008 @ 2:16pm

    Re: This is why copyright laws are lame

    ScoLgo,

    Though you make a sound point, I don't think that your analogy applies. Music, books, movies, etc. differ in the aspect of originality. A musician/author/screenwriter take their experience and talents and make something of their own and sell it as 'art'. Whereas the regular-Joe employee applies his services the same way the next guy would.

    If you invented something wouldn't you want the sole right to manufacture that product? The same goes for musicians. And this seems like a blatant case of plagiarism.

     

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    SUMMERSONG, Dec 8th, 2008 @ 3:30pm

    As stated by Joe, He tried to talk to Coldplay and their management. They would not even acknowledge him. And for those that think Coldplay's guitarist has never heard of Joe, then wake up. Joe also states that this song was in the works for his wife Rubina since 1990. It took that long to complete it. Thats part of the reason he is pissed.
    It was also mentioned that in a interveiw with Coldplay in 2004, they new who Joe Satriani was and had heard his music. That interveiw will be a key if it so happened.

     

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    yo, Dec 9th, 2008 @ 2:47am

    gtfover it

    hey joe, get over it. they sound the same but they arent

     

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    Gil Gasuckmyballs, Dec 9th, 2008 @ 3:00am

    "After all, isn't imitation the sincerest form of flattery?"

    Umm... not when you're making millions of dollars and a Grammy off it, no. Douchebag.

     

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    Gil Gasuckmyballs, Dec 9th, 2008 @ 3:16am

    Also, Bach, Handel, Vivaldi, and Telemann didn't live in a world with iTunes, the Grammys, Youtube, copyright law, etc. I'd say that's kind of an important little detail. And if everyone steals from everyone else, why is THIS particular instance being blown so wildly out of proportion?

    And don't try and pass off that bullshit about Joe Satriani overreacting. He tried to settle the matter outside of court, and Coldplay completely blew him off.

    Finally, it was nowhere near "building on others' ideas for inspiration." Coldplay's version of the song has the same melody and chord progression, and has the same groove to it. All they did was add lyrics and gayness.

    To recap: You are a douchebag.

     

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    Jimi Hendrix, Dec 9th, 2008 @ 5:27am

    Why was Satriani so upset?

    Was it because Coldplay allegedly stole his riff?
    Or because no one cares about his song and when Coldplay use the riff it instantly becomes a world hit?

     

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    mkeMuse, Dec 9th, 2008 @ 5:56am

    Graham Nash should sue them too!

    Graham Nash should get in on the action too.
    Coldplay's Violet Hill is a bit too much like Nash's Chicago! Maybe it's time for them to hang it up.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 9th, 2008 @ 9:45am

    there is a 'special olympics' feel to this lawsuit... that satriani spent ten years "working" on this is beyond understanding. the melody is unoriginal. its empty, uninspired, lame and obvious. it's like a writer suing another for starting his story with "It was a dark and stormy night." its embarrassing.

    but... if coldplay had commmented in an interview months ago that a section of the melody of their song was strikingly similar to many other songs this all probably would have been avoided. it's simply a matter of pride or arrogence on their part. they would rather pay lawyers than admit the artistic bankruptcy that their critics accuse them of.

     

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    ScoLgo, Dec 9th, 2008 @ 2:17pm

    Re: Re: This is why copyright laws are lame

    TempoMental,
    Thanks for the insightful reply. Yes, I would like to reserve that right - but only for a 'reasonable' time-frame. I happen to think that the life of the author plus 50 years or so is waaaayyyy too long.

    I believe the original copyright laws had it set at around 15 years, (I'm not sure of the exact number, but it was much more reasonable than what it has since become). At that, it did a nice job of fulfilling the intent; to allow an artist to create a non-physical product and make a living off it until they created their next work. It also fulfilled another purpose by enriching human culture by releasing those works into the public domain within a fair span of time.

    As far as plagiarism goes, all music in the world derives from other music. I've been a musician for most of my life and I can tell you for a fact that we are all the product of our influences. Sure, you can come up with an infinite number of variations on those 12 notes I mentioned, but there is literally nothing new under the sun. It's mostly /slight/ variations on the same themes.

    I have not listened to these two recordings so I don't have an opinion on whether or not Coldplay ripped off Satriani directly. My point is this: If copyright laws were logical, we probably wouldn't need to have this discussion, (as fun as it can be to debate these things).

    Cheers!

     

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    Massive, Dec 9th, 2008 @ 6:18pm

    Re: REtarded

    are you kidding?..Joe Satriani is one of the finest musicians on the planet!..If I Could Fly was recorded in late 2003 and released in 2004..the main melody is a BLATANT rip off!..PERIOD!

     

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    TempoMental, Dec 10th, 2008 @ 7:57am

    Re: Re: Re: This is why copyright laws are lame

    ScoLgo,
    I am also a musician and I completely agree with you that we are all a product of our influences. Now, if I could only pull off riffs of Shawn Lane or Guthrie Govan...

     

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    dont matter, Dec 10th, 2008 @ 5:51pm

    fuck you coldplay isnt a poser
    get a life and stop causing shit

     

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    anonymous, Dec 10th, 2008 @ 7:21pm

    its complete crap..

    whats the point in fussing over a song that was written before coldplay was even a band? yes the song does sound similar to viva la vida but i honestly think joe is just doing this to get attention. notice that coldplay's song earned a grammy and joe's song didnt earn crap! personally i really dont have anything against joe ,but im with coldplay on this one.

     

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    anonymous, Dec 10th, 2008 @ 7:33pm

    Re:

    as a response to you i just wanna say you must be mentally retarted. viva la vida wasnt the most amazing song in the world, but joe's song is just gay. i listened to it twice and both times i REALLY listened to the words. they have no meaning. and no matter how many comments are posted that will not change. everyone can argue forever and ever but the fact that the song "if i could fly" sucks bigtime WILL NOT CHANGE.
    Get over it. move on in life!

     

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    Ian, Dec 14th, 2008 @ 12:24am

    all been done before guys
    coldplay may or may not be lying but they were sounding like other bands before this anyway
    They are not an orignal sounding band anyway but if people like them good luck to them

     

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    Andrew, Dec 15th, 2008 @ 6:51pm

    This is bullshit.

    I don't care what you all say. The verse from Viva la Vivda is completely stolen from If I Could Fly. Sure, the similarities may be minimal, but it contained almost the exact same chord change, same key, and same notes. To me, if an average listener can tell if the two sound the same, then it is plagirism. And don't give me this bullshit about the fame and fortune the song made apparently making it better than anything that Joe Satriani can do. Hell, Lil' Wayne is famous. Are you telling me that Lil' Wayne is more talented than Joe Satriani? Fucking of course not. Popularity does NOT equal talent. But the point is that Joe Satriani was hurt by this blatant copy from his song, which was written for his wife and took over a decade to compose. Joe Satriani SHOULD win, but chances are he won't, because the world has no more decency.

    "joe's song is just gay. i listened to it twice and both times i REALLY listened to the words. they have no meaning" You fucking piece of shit, there are no words to If I Could Fly. Stop being such a fanboy who doesn't know anything about the matter at hand.

     

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    Halcyon, Dec 15th, 2008 @ 9:01pm

    Accountability

    Mr. Blaise, the songs are very similar, please dont ignore the obvious and ramble some rhetorical artist jargon. Sure, many artists are inspired by other artists- it's a form of compliment. Pay tribute, give credit. It would have been totally cool had there been any mention of the original composer of that particular arrangement, even without monetary consideration involved. To deny it, and try to spin it off as harmless coincidence is to be expected from the guilty party, but not from a fair person. Not fair Mr. Blaise. Finally, to go No.1 with it and still ... Hey these guys are truely Magical! ;) Wish they had redone La Vida Loca!

     

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    Halcyon, Dec 15th, 2008 @ 9:09pm

    Re: Why was Satriani so upset?

    JH, you must be in a Purple Haze. It's a sad day when you BigUp the CP version of a song. Satriani is a vertuoso. And your radio has no CD player I'm guessing.

     

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    Blaise Alleyne (profile), Dec 16th, 2008 @ 3:22pm

    Re: Accountability

    Pay tribute, give credit. It would have been totally cool had there been any mention of the original composer of that particular arrangement, even without monetary consideration involved. To deny it, and try to spin it off as harmless coincidence is to be expected from the guilty party, but not from a fair person.


    Hi Halcyon.

    I think you may misunderstand my point. I asked some "what if" questions about the extent of the damage, were the Coldplay tune inspired by Satriani's, but I really don't believe that it was. Just in the comments here alone, there are 4 or 5 other songs with a similar melody over similar chords. I think it's much more likely that it's just a natural melody to sing over those chords, and that it wasn't taken directly from Satriani (or Cat Stevens... or the Doves... or Creaky Boards... or Billy Joel) at all.

     

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    Blaise Alleyne (profile), Dec 22nd, 2008 @ 4:52am

    Re: This is bullshit.

    The verse from Viva la Vivda is completely stolen from If I Could Fly. Sure, the similarities may be minimal, but it contained almost the exact same chord change, same key, and same notes.


    For it to by copyright infringement, "the same" isn't really good enough. You need to prove it was copied. People can come up with the same thing indpendently, especially if the "similarities are minimal."

    To me, if an average listener can tell if the two sound the same, then it is plagirism.


    So, I guess that Satriani clearly plagiarised Cat Stevens and Billy Joel, since their songs came first and people here have been able to notice the similarities.

    But the point is that Joe Satriani was hurt by this blatant copy from his song, which was written for his wife and took over a decade to compose.


    How was he hurt? Did people buy Coldplay's song instead of If I Could Fly? Did people buy tickets to a Coldplay concert instead of Satriani's?

     

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    Unknown, Dec 22nd, 2008 @ 9:16am

    Corrupt Musicians?! Now I've Seen Everything!

    Hey Everybody! I'm gonna go home and write a song using nothing but the G chord... and if anyone EVER uses the G chord again... I'm going to sue them for plagirism... because thats the type of musician I am... I don't care about music... I only care about money, and my rightful ownership of the G chord...

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 25th, 2008 @ 3:23am

    Re: One problem

    You obviously don't understand what makes music good - popularity does not make music good. People who actually have even a passing interest in the subject will have no doubt heard of, and listened to Satriani. Popular in the mainstream or not.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 25th, 2008 @ 3:24am

    Re:

    I'm sorry about your non existant taste in music. Though Coldplay do suck.

     

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    Isaac, Jan 17th, 2009 @ 10:59am

    Hi,

    I teach music theory, guitar, bass, and piano.

    The issue here, is when we look at notes at melodic notes in terms of harmonic positioning (4th, octave, etc.) against the chord progressions, we find that the Coldplay melody is more than eerily similar -- same starting contours, ending contours, very similar rhythmic values, very same grooves.

    It's not just coincidence; do a music theory analysis and you will see it is a very blatant case of plagiarism.

     

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    Blaise Alleyne (profile), Jan 17th, 2009 @ 1:21pm

    Re:

    Hi Isaac,

    Thanks for the comment. But... seriously? Same "contours?" Satriani is wailing on an electric and Martin is using his voice. There are three notes that are identical (3/42). How is that even enough to have "starting" or "ending" contours?

    And what about all the other songs people have pointed it in the comments? Is Satriani's song not a blatant case of plagiarism (of Doves or Cat Stevens or Billy Joel...) by your logic?

     

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    GK, Feb 11th, 2009 @ 8:12pm

    copyrights

    There are a lot of misunderstandings about music theory and copyright law on here. I am in the music publishing business and my company deals with these issues on a regular basis.
    To claim that proof of "copying" is required rather than a simple factual illustration of overt similarity to an existing, legally copyrighted work is simply not true.
    When a work is copyrighted, it is in a condition of artistic and legal existence and any similarities which are overt can indeed infringe that copyright. Intent is not the issue in a case of infringement. The intervallic melody - and specifically the melody against those harmonies - was enough to seal the case against George Harrison, a case in which the judge even stated during closing that he did not believe Mr. Harrison consciously appropriated the 3-note melody in question, but that he had nevertheless used a melody which already belonged to someone else. The law hasn't changed in any substantial way on this issue. The Maj7-Octave-6th (becoming 5th of the following chord) - or, for classical folk, leading note-tonic-submediant of the initial subdominant chord (becoming dominant of the dominant chord) - is probably enough to make this a simple case. The key or complete chord sequence is not the issue, it is the appearance of THOSE notes upon THOSE harmonies.
    Access to the track is inherently proved by "Is There Love In Space" being on general release and therefore potentially accessible to anyone. Mr. Satriani's lawyer's will not need to prove Coldplay listened to his track, just that they conceivably were able to. After all, one cannot disprove beyond reasonable doubt that one was never aware of a work one could feasibly have been aware of.
    Copyright law exists to allow artists, writers and composers fair recompense and recognition for their work. If the law allowed all to freely steal such intellectual and artistic properties without consequence, nobody would reasonably be able to build a career out of being a creative artist and the world would be a far poorer place for it. Nobody in ANY job would think it fair to see someone else achieve recognition and financial reward for a job they had actually done and an achievement that truly belonged to them. A composer's compositions ARE their work. To claim that coyright law is "out of whack" is utterly ludicrous.

     

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    Blaise Alleyne (profile), Feb 11th, 2009 @ 9:53pm

    Re: copyrights

    GK,

    You believe that Satriani did Coldplay's job for them? Even if they might not have heard the song?

    What about all the other examples posted here with similar melodies? Is Satriani infringing any of those? Many predate his song. Did Billy Joel do Satriani's work for him?

     

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    GK, Feb 13th, 2009 @ 10:42pm

    It's grasping at straws a bit to try to dig up any melodies that are at all reminiscent in any way as a form of "proof" of either Coldplay's alleged originality or Satriani's alleged unoriginality. Let Billy Joel comment on the matter, or better still, let him take that one to court, to those that KNOW copyright law. As proved in many cases, contextual melody is so often the chief issue, ie a set of intervallic movements against a particular harmonic motion. Thereby we draw the fine but fair line between inspiration and plagiarism, the vital distinction between insignificant and significant similarities. Or, to put it bluntly, "acceptable" and "too damn much".
    It doesn't make a difference whether or not Coldplay deliberately copied; all that needs to be proved is that they had ACCESS to the track. And, since it was available in shops worldwide, that's very easy to prove and very, very hard to deny. If they subconsciously heard it (and apparently it did have quite a bit of rock radio airplay at the time) then, yes, they thereby skipped part of the necessary creative process required for composing an original song. If they never did, it's unfortunate for them, but there's no way they can prove they didn't hear something that they conceivably could have heard, and - purposely or inadvertently -they nevertheless utilized the fruits of someone else's creative labours in their own work. Intention is usually far from being the deciding factor when copyright exists to preserve the right to not be copied.

     

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    Itai Spector, Feb 14th, 2009 @ 7:58am

    Ridiculous

    If you go over youtube, you find some instresting things, like 4 other songs from all times that all are similar to this melody...
    that simply proves, that satriani doesnt have a case, cuz if he does, he copied himself this melody...
    look music has been around us for ages, u cant really expect that you wont hear the same chords or melodies sequence.. its impossible, there is so much musicians around the world, part of playing/making music is to take inspiration from all the things you like to hear, sometimes it involves with a few chords or melody moves... i mean come on during the history he had great bands, that must have taken something from others to bring it as they see it, i have to give some examples like The Beatles, most of Hip Hop/Rap music, Daft Punk, Justice - just a small portion.. but its unavoidable..
    if u let me be the judge.. i definatly wouldnt let satraini win... id say to both of them make peace and go to ur ways..

     

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    Blaise Alleyne (profile), Feb 15th, 2009 @ 6:06pm

    Re:

    I don't think anyone is suggesting they copied it unintentionally, but rather that it's a pretty natural melody to sing over those chords... which is why Billy Joel, Cat Stevens, Doves, Creaky Boards, etc, all came up with something similar. Pointing out a handful of similar melodies over the course of the last decade is hardly grasping at straws. Quite frankly, if this is copyright infringement, then there are a lot more problems with copyright than I thought.

    The problem with the "fine but fair line" is that it's not at all obvious, and not at all fair (especially if you don't even have to prove conscious copying). What about all the songs based on Pachabel's Canon chords, or a T-shaped progression? There are melodies that are much more similar which occur far more often than the three note overlap between these two songs.

    Do you honestly think that Coldplay's single has any effect on Satriani's? Are people listening to it instead of his song? Are they buying Coldpaly's album instead of Satriani's? Even if the melody did come from Satriani, where's the harm?

     

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    GK, Feb 16th, 2009 @ 10:25am

    Re: Re:

    The key is the important difference between "similar" and "the same"or, we could say, "reminiscent" and "alike". Like it or not, there is a distinction between the two. That's why it certainly is a form of grasping at straws to dig up examples that clearly fall on the opposite side of that line, if you're using it try to prove a point that is too far away from the legal reality of instances like this. There are many legal precendents for this type of situation, too.

    It's hard to see how a song not being infringement until the point at which it becomes uncomfortably similar is a "problem" with copyright. Surely it would be more of a problem if anything vaguely similar were to infringe (thankfully not the case) or if something too close to a previous work were to be freely used and exploited (also thankfully not the case). The fair middle ground between the two is the one which is - and must continue to be - upheld.

    Pachelbels's Canon is an insignificant example, for two reasons. Firstly, it's in the public domain, making it fair game for anyone. Totally different situation. Secondly, the majority of songs which are based on Johann Pachelbel's work copy the harmony far more than the melody - a distinction that is very obvious to any musician or educated listener, and a distinction that even to the layman can change the situation from "hmm, that reminds me of........." to "hang on, that's........"

    In addition, legally, as the degree of similarity increases, the necessity to prove access diminishes. If a court were to judge the melody "overtly similar", then the issue of access, though basically inherently cut and dried in this example, would become less relevant. It's entirely feasible that, for example, one or more members of Coldplay could have been out shopping and heard it on the radio in a store or cafe, then subconsciously reproduced it later on. That would be "unconscious copying", which, if it's deemed to be to like Joe Satriani's, could not only be suggested but outright stated by the judge, just like in the George Harrison / Chiffons case. And to be told, "I believe you didn't mean it but you nevertheless trod on his toes" is surely a better instance than, "you out-and-out stole".

    I would think that Joe Satriani's concern is more of a "big picture" issue than a worry about weekly sales! If an instrumental entertainer were to play "If I Could Fly" and audience members were to assume it as an instrumental version of "Viva La Vida", he could rightfully feel artistically damaged. In a few years time, people can forget which came first and his composition could be looked upon as a copy rather than the original. I'd say it's that kind of situation which is unfair.

    If he were to license an orchestral version, say for soundtrack purposes, and listeners were to then think of Coldplay instead of Joe Satriani, that can conceivably amount to career damage, in terms of his respectability as a composer. Personally, I find it very easy to understand how he could feel aggrieved in that. Therein lies the potential for "harm". Coldplay's visibility surely IS a factor, but it has nothing to do with jealousy or career competitiveness, it lies in the fact that the more people hear the rip-off, the less respect the original gets in the general consciousness. Or subconsciousness, even.

    Imagine, in 40 years' time, Satriani's song is used in a movie, in a newly recorded version, and today's 9-year olds, then nearing 50, say "I remember that song! It's Coldplay!" Such hypothetical situations are admissible in considering the whole situation.
    Every composer wants his musical legacy intact. It's that reason which contributes largely to the current law of lifetime + 50 yrs - to allow respect and legacy where it's deserved. Believe it or not, some artists care about the art itself than the bucks.

    Ultimately, there are literally millions of variations which could have distanced VLV from IICF which were not hit upon. Such differences appear in, for example, Cat Stevens' song (or in Satriani's song FROM Cat Stevens' song, to be precise) but not in Coldplay's version.
    The great producer Ted Templeman once said, "if you release a version of a proven song, you're halfway there". By this I assume he meant that the initial work of lodging your melody into the minds of listeners is done for you. Familiarity is already existant in the public consciousness. Satriani's melody is a bit more obscure than Coldplay's in terms of public consumption, but it was certainly out there. Worldwide. If you're standing on the shoulders of another, credit ought to be given, whether it was or wasn't intentional. And I use the reference to intention here because not meaning to copy does not automatically mean you didn't. Certainly in a court of law.

    Ultimately, I suspect Coldplay's lawyers will continue the front of denial until it becomes clear Satriani's lawyers won't back down. Then, given the shaky legal ground they are standing on, they'll probably opt to settle before trial.

     

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    Blaise Alleyne (profile), Feb 17th, 2009 @ 2:03am

    Re: Re: Re:

    That's why it certainly is a form of grasping at straws to dig up examples that clearly fall on the opposite side of that line, if you're using it try to prove a point that is too far away from the legal reality of instances like this. There are many legal precendents for this type of situation, too.

    Ah, well, the legal realities are one thing, but I'm also interested in better laws.

    It's hard to see how a song not being infringement until the point at which it becomes uncomfortably similar is a "problem" with copyright.

    Actually, it seems quite easy to me: define "uncomfortably similar." If a musician needs to hire a lawyer to figure that out (or a psychologist to see if they're guilty of unconsciously copying), I think we can do better.

    I would think that Joe Satriani's concern is more of a "big picture" issue than a worry about weekly sales! If an instrumental entertainer were to play "If I Could Fly" and audience members were to assume it as an instrumental version of "Viva La Vida", he could rightfully feel artistically damaged.

    (1) Then why is he asking for "any and all profits"?

    (2) Do you really think that a lawsuit will make a big difference to his respectability as a composer? Imagine, in 40 years' time, Satriani's song is used in a movie, in a newly recorded version, and today's 9-year olds, then nearing 50, say.... "I remember that lawsuit!"...

    Do you think today's 9-year-olds will remember some copyright settlement? I'd bet that most people forget the lawsuit, especially if they're under the age of 10 right now.

    Ultimately, there are literally millions of variations which could have distanced VLV from IICF which were not hit upon... If you're standing on the shoulders of another, credit ought to be given, whether it was or wasn't intentional.

    Unless you add a few variations? This is about more than just credit, and you wouldn't expect an artist to credit every influence. If it's really about crediting an influence, then some variation wouldn't be enough to avoid that responsibility.

    Copyright infringement is about the unauthorized use of material covered by copyright law in a way that violates the exclusive rights provided. The exclusive rights are provided as an incentive to encourage creation. If Coldplay had noticed the similarities and contacted Satriani, I doubt he'd have said, "just credit me."


    Every composer wants his musical legacy intact. It's that reason which contributes largely to the current law of lifetime + 50 yrs - to allow respect and legacy where it's deserved. Believe it or not, some artists care about the art itself than the bucks.

    Copyright isn't about "respect and legacy" though. It's about promoting the progress of science and the useful arts. How does it promote progress to lock a song up with copyright for a century, so that anyone might face a lawsuit who happens to independently come up with a melody that's similar to a song they "might" have heard, just to somehow "protect the legacy" of the composer?

    Ultimately, I suspect Coldplay's lawyers will continue the front of denial until it becomes clear Satriani's lawyers won't back down. Then, given the shaky legal ground they are standing on, they'll probably opt to settle before trial.

    It's not just Coldplay's lawyers taking a stance of denial, but the band members themselves. What about Coldplay's legacy? What if this was actually a case of independent creation, but the legal realities make a settlement the best option. You don't think that's a problem?


    Also, are there many cases of artists licensing melodies like this? In other words, is this the type of right that Satriani would have actually exploited (e.g. if you credit me and pay $x then you can sing the tune), or is it more than likely that a few variations would have just been added, or maybe that the song wouldn't be heard?

     

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    Noah, Feb 19th, 2009 @ 6:06pm

    Coldplay-Satriani

    They sound similar but not the same. Also if Coldplay copied him why are they famous for the song and he just another 50 year old guitarist. Joe is obviously a more talented musician but coldplay are better songwriters, by far.

     

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    GK, Feb 20th, 2009 @ 9:29pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I think it's noble of you to be interested in "better laws", Blaise, though that is an EXTREMELY subjective definition, isn't it? Your idea of "better laws", I suspect, mightn't concur with mine (judging by your latest post, anyway), so I do think that, while we all may hope to bend the law to suit our own opinions, ultimately that's a rather futile criteria for discussion. Personally and professionally, I think the middle ground this law particular law oversees is pretty much the best compromise we can hope for to protect composers and artists without getting silly about it. Perhaps we must agree to disagree on that one. It does make for interesting discussion, though!

    I'm happy to answer the questions you put to me, too:

    "Actually, it seems quite easy to me: define "uncomfortably similar." If a musician needs to hire a lawyer to figure that out (or a psychologist to see if they're guilty of unconsciously copying), I think we can do better."

    Well, how would you suggest we "do better"? If art were mathematically cut-and-dried, I don't believe it would truly be art. "Uncomfortably similar" suggests that there is indeed a point at which (and legally, for example, a reasonable cross-section of both educated professionals and laymen can confirm that) there is a real risk of people confusing one piece of music with the other, to the detriment of the recognized uniqueness and character of the original composition. Obviously, opinions have to come into it, but listening IS a subjective art. Composers' reputations are built upon people's opinions of their work. To me it's no wonder they do all they can to defend it. I suppose that encompasses both Satriani's AND Coldplay's stances, one crying foul with the other in a state of denial. Public opinion, both present and future, are surely factoring into this situation. Clearly, there HAS to be a certain point at which one composer is protected.



    "(1) Then why is he asking for "any and all profits"?"

    I'd have thought that obvious. Most legal tussles, like bartering, involve demands that are intended to be met in the middle. Somewhere between "all" and "nothing" is the middle ground we may just find reached in the end.
    Incidentally, my own personal opinion is that he deserves SOME of the profits. Having read the Coldplay lyrics, I find them quite intriguing and well-written and obviously Satriani can claim no credit there! Their song could not exist as such without the piece of melody in question either. And yet, there are other things involved in the song as a whole which cannot be (directly, anyway) credited to Satriani. I feel the best answer is that the song is deemed to have been created by Martin, Buckland, Champion, Berryman AND Satriani. But the legal aggression in the "any and all" demand, unfortunately, is where lawyers generally start in cases like this. Perhaps the initial cold reaction led to this? I can't really say, I don't have that information. But I can speculate that, in that same situation, I'd probably start there and hope to reach a compromise eventually.



    "(2) Do you really think that a lawsuit will make a big difference to his respectability as a composer? Imagine, in 40 years' time, Satriani's song is used in a movie, in a newly recorded version, and today's 9-year olds, then nearing 50, say.... "I remember that lawsuit!"...

    Do you think today's 9-year-olds will remember some copyright settlement? I'd bet that most people forget the lawsuit, especially if they're under the age of 10 right now."

    I think that the big difference is that, if Joe Satriani is legally recognized to have created that melody, then (a) that information will be available to anyone wondering about it at ANY time in the future (and, let's face it, the more fuss made about it, the more the whole story will become part of rock'n'roll history) - I, for example, wasn't even born, let alone under 10, when George Harrison released "My Sweet Lord", but I'm well aware of the case - and (b) Satriani's own personal, artistic peace of mind (in his creation of that tune not going unrecognized and in, at the least, having made his mark and his response) would, certainly to some extent, be achieved. That satisfaction may be of real importance to him. A case, perhaps, of standing up for what he believed was right. If no-one cared enough to do that regarding things they hold dear, the world would be a far sorrier place.


    "Unless you add a few variations? This is about more than just credit, and you wouldn't expect an artist to credit every influence. If it's really about crediting an influence, then some variation wouldn't be enough to avoid that responsibility"

    It's not really about "influence" as much as getting too close to an original work. Rather like a visual logo or trademark, there is a point at which it becomes different enough to not be the same thing any more as well as a point in the other direction at which it becomes too similar. Though visual trademarks are not so much my field, I'd hazard a guess that the main point is, similarly, the point at which a notable percentage of the public can clearly see the potential for confusion between one and the other. Look at Fender and Gibson's headstock shape copyrights for examples of this. Or for a more wide-reaching example, it's safe to say that anything that looks "enough" like the McDonalds' "Golden Arches" will be crushed! Even if it's not quite the same. The key is in HOW MUCH variation is required to distance one work from another. The Satriani/Coldplay dispute is based upon the fact that Satriani is claiming that Coldplay used his melody. If it were more different, it wouldn't be his melody anymore. Three notes, in a certain order and rhythm, were deemed distinctive enough in the Harrison case to be infringement. It's for this reason that musicologists' opinions are often required, as well as probability factors. Influences AREN'T copyrighted, chunks of original melody ARE. That is the "fine but fair" line I referred to previously. The law (and the courts) are there to decide how much is TOO much. Thankfully for us all, it leans too far to NEITHER extreme.


    "The exclusive rights are provided as an incentive to encourage creation. If Coldplay had noticed the similarities and contacted Satriani, I doubt he'd have said, "just credit me." "

    I'd like to add to that that exclusive rights are provided not just to encourage creation (though it surely provides incentive to create), but also to protect the livelihood, professional reputation and, yes, legacy of the creator. I'm sure if JS had been contacted, an agreement could have been reached, probably involving a share of the mechanical royalties. I'm likewise sure if the Verve had obtained permission from the Stones re: the "Bittersweet Symphony" case, they'd be in a hell of a lot better position with that one today.


    "Copyright isn't about "respect and legacy" though. It's about promoting the progress of science and the useful arts."

    Sorry, Blaise, that's merely your opinion and I'm afraid I can't agree that it's not about respect and legacy. In all arts, a huge number of artists certainly do care about this, from novelists to musicians, screenwriters to poets, actors to painters. It is the driving force for many and laws designed to protect their rights do not do that unless they protect their name, reputation and body of work. Again, I must say I am glad that the law DOES in large part protect these things.


    "How does it promote progress to lock a song up with copyright for a century, so that anyone might face a lawsuit who happens to independently come up with a melody that's similar to a song they "might" have heard, just to somehow "protect the legacy" of the composer?"

    I'll answer that in four words: Credit where credit's due. That may not be enough for you, but it's enough for me and a great many others. I can add that it is in the interests of creativity and the arts in general for musicians (and those in other arts) to reach a bit further, try a bit harder and think a bit more in order to create something sufficiently different as to be deemed original, even compared to previous works by others. Many still manage to achieve this, too! If someone's purpose is to create great art, and they do, it would be unthinkable to allow that art to be stolen and exploited - and therefore very much diluted - by anyone. That sort of thing could indeed mess with how that artist is seen by the public and even whether or not they are historically recognized for their artistic achievements. I'd be willing to bet that this matters to Joe Satriani more than the extra money which (unless he's the worst investor in the world!) he surely doesn't need anyway.


    "It's not just Coldplay's lawyers taking a stance of denial, but the band members themselves. What about Coldplay's legacy? What if this was actually a case of independent creation, but the legal realities make a settlement the best option. You don't think that's a problem?"

    I think it would be a far greater problem if anyone could use anything of anyone else's they liked and be utterly excused simply by claiming ignorance. That, to me, would be a completely unacceptable state of affairs. I do believe they accidentally created something uncomfortably similar, but, as with patent laws, if I invented something but someone beat me to it, that's my tough luck, isn't it? If Coldplay released a successful cover version of, say, a Beatles song, no-one would see it as a detriment to their career. It's not the fact that someone else's idea is involved which could threaten to see them frowned upon by many, it's the simple lack of caring about such an infringement. Their biggest problem is to be seen as plagiarists, as that garners no respect in the end. To settle and honestly say that they didn't mean to get too close to his song, but do recognize and honour the achievements of a fellow pro, would probably see this lawsuit fade from their ultimate career story. To claim to not recognize something obvious to so many does say something about them in the eyes of a lot of people within the music business. Their own legacy could rest on this case in quite a different way from Satriani's. When I said, "continue the front of denial", I did mean the one started by the band.



    "Also, are there many cases of artists licensing melodies like this? In other words, is this the type of right that Satriani would have actually exploited (e.g. if you credit me and pay $x then you can sing the tune), or is it more than likely that a few variations would have just been added, or maybe that the song wouldn't be heard?"

    Generally, if a song is built around another composer's work, that composer (through his publishing company) must grant rights and the subsequent song must be approved, often by the composer him/herself. this has happened often in rock/rap crossover pieces. In the case of Led Zeppelin, for example, they just had to credit the original composer as a co-writer and split the royalties accordingly. Often, if permission is NOT granted, alterations are made to avoid infringement. This has happened a great many times too.

    I cannot speak for Joe Satriani, I have no idea how he'd have responded to a pre-emptive request, but I reckon it's unlikely the whole thing would have to have been shelved, though it may (at worst) have required a bit more "tweaking".
    I do believe they were not consciously aware of the infringement itself, though I also believe the likelihood of one of them hearing the tune somewhere and "regurgitating" it later cannot rightly be discounted - or disproved.

     

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    Blaise Alleyne (profile), Mar 7th, 2009 @ 1:20pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Sorry, GK, for taking so long to respond, it's been a long month. Hopefully you're still around to respond!

    I think it's noble of you to be interested in "better laws", Blaise, though that is an EXTREMELY subjective definition, isn't it? Your idea of "better laws", I suspect, mightn't concur with mine (judging by your latest post, anyway), so I do think that, while we all may hope to bend the law to suit our own opinions, ultimately that's a rather futile criteria for discussion.


    You're not saying anything here. My "better laws" comment was just to clarify that I wasn't solely describing the legal realities, but talking about other possibilities. Of course "better" can be subjective, but that's what we're arguing about.

    Personally and professionally, I think the middle ground this law particular law oversees is pretty much the best compromise we can hope for to protect composers and artists without getting silly about it.


    ... and not "getting silly about it" isn't "futile criteria for discussion?"

    Anyways, onto the real points!

    Composers' reputations are built upon people's opinions of their work. To me it's no wonder they do all they can to defend it. I suppose that encompasses both Satriani's AND Coldplay's stances, one crying foul with the other in a state of denial. Public opinion, both present and future, are surely factoring into this situation. Clearly, there HAS to be a certain point at which one composer is protected.


    Strongly disagree that there "has to be a certain point at which one composer is protected." Protected from what? What does this have to do with copyright? Copyright is not about protecting reputations, and reputations can be harmed or upheld without it. Once something is in the public domain, you can do what you want with it, without giving any credit.

    If people look down upon passing someone else's work off as one's own, we're talking about plagiarism, not copyright. And reputations can be held or harmed without copyright law. Attribution is what's relevant there.


    But the legal aggression in the "any and all" demand, unfortunately, is where lawyers generally start in cases like this. Perhaps the initial cold reaction led to this? I can't really say, I don't have that information. But I can speculate that, in that same situation, I'd probably start there and hope to reach a compromise eventually.


    "Any and all profits" is a pretty stiff starting point, and lawyers don't always start there. In the Dibango lawsuit against Jackson and Rihanna, his lawyers asked for €500,000, not "any and all profits." At best, this is a bad PR move by Satriani's lawyers. Otherwise, some might be tempted to say that part of this is certainly about the money.


    If Joe Satriani is legally recognized to have created that melody, then (a) that information will be available to anyone wondering about it at ANY time in the future...


    And what if Coldplay came up with it independently, but because of the legal realities, are forced to settle? What about their reputation? And, often these settlement cases involve money, but no admission of guilt.

    (b) Satriani's own personal, artistic peace of mind... would, certainly to some extent, be achieved. That satisfaction may be of real importance to him.


    That's nice if it's important to him, but "artistic peace of mind" is not important for copyright law. Copying is.

    A case, perhaps, of standing up for what he believed was right. If no-one cared enough to do that regarding things they hold dear, the world would be a far sorrier place.


    The world would also be a far sorrier place if people constantly abuse the law and twist it for their own ends. This is not what copyright law is about.

    Sorry, Blaise, that's merely your opinion and I'm afraid I can't agree that it's not about respect and legacy. In all arts, a huge number of artists certainly do care about this, from novelists to musicians, screenwriters to poets, actors to painters. It is the driving force for many and laws designed to protect their rights do not do that unless they protect their name, reputation and body of work. Again, I must say I am glad that the law DOES in large part protect these things.


    If it's about respect and legacy for people now, that's because they don't understand the real intent of copyright law. That's why they file lawsuits like this. The constitutional basis for copyright is not at all about "protecting" anyone's rights? What rights? The rights granted by copyright law are artificial and temporary, there are not natural rights. It's about an economic incentive, "promoting the progress."

    If copyright were about "protecting the rights of an artist," why is there a public domain?


    [How does it promote progress?] I'll answer that in four words: Credit where credit's due. That may not be enough for you, but it's enough for me and a great many others


    That's plenty enough for me, but clearly not what you're talking about.

    Later, you say:

    if a song is built around another composer's work, that composer (through his publishing company) must grant rights and the subsequent song must be approved, often by the composer him/herself.


    Copyright isn't about credit, it's about permission. You don't honestly believe that (assuming Coldplay copied the melody), if Coldplay had approached Satriani for permission to use the melody, he'd have said, "sure -- just credit me!" You said "the subsequent song must be approved" and that often royalties are split. It's not just about "credit where credit's due."

    It's about permission, and licensing, and money. Because copyright is an economic incentive.

    And what if it was some small independent artist, what means would they have of getting permission? They probably wouldn't create or would be forced to create something different, because they wouldn't be able to get permission or afford the risk of a lawsuit.

    If it were just about credit and attribution, trust me, I'd probably be pretty happy.


    I can add that it is in the interests of creativity and the arts in general for musicians (and those in other arts) to reach a bit further, try a bit harder and think a bit more in order to create something sufficiently different as to be deemed original, even compared to previous works by others.


    That's just ridiculous. (1) How many films put out by big content companies or remakes of old films, or books turned into movies? How many cover songs have there been? These build on previous works. Copyright is about permission, and thus, usually licensing. (2) Read much Shakespeare? How much did he borrow from others? He'd have been in violation of copyright law, were the works he build off under copyright. (3) Again, talk about subjectivity: define "sufficiently different as to be deemed original." (4) What's wrong with creating things that aren't original anyways? That's often how we learn to create, by imitating.

    I tend to agree with C.S. Lewis: "Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it."

    The Satriani/Coldplay lawsuit seems to be an example of how copyright discourages many forms of creation. To be focused on "originality, respect and legacy" is to (a) miss the intent of copyright law, and (b) encourage artist to file and worry about lawsuits like this, rather than to create art.


    I think it would be a far greater problem if anyone could use anything of anyone else's they liked and be utterly excused simply by claiming ignorance. That, to me, would be a completely unacceptable state of affairs.


    I don't. First of all, unless a work was fairly different from the one it allegedly copied from, a claim of ignorance wouldn't even be believable. And if it's that different, that a claim of ignorance might actually be true, that seems to be a pretty strong argument for fair use, in terms of a derivative work being transformative. So, even if it was a derivative work, it would likely be fair use. And if it wasn't actually a derivative, copyright law has no place regulating it anyways. I don't share your concerns.

    To settle and honestly say that they didn't mean to get too close to his song, but do recognize and honour the achievements of a fellow pro...


    (1) What doesn't being a "pro" have to do with it (except for highlighting the point that it's near impossible for "amateurs" to create in the same way because of copyright)? (2) What's wrong with being "too close" if they didn't copy? How many songs use the same chord progression, or similar melodies?

    I do believe they accidentally created something uncomfortably similar, but, as with patent laws, if I invented something but someone beat me to it, that's my tough luck, isn't it?


    It is flat out wrong to compare copyright law to patent law in this respect. The lack of a defence of independent creation is one of the biggest differences between copyright and patent law (and, I would argue, problems). If you're talking about independent creation as infringement, you are simply not talking about copyright law.

    True, it's not about intending to create something similar, so it may have been accidental copying, but unless it was copying, it's not copyright infringement.

    I do believe they were not consciously aware of the infringement itself, though I also believe the likelihood of one of them hearing the tune somewhere and "regurgitating" it later cannot rightly be discounted - or disproved.


    Then, it seems to be that the argument of unconscious copying is a serious problem with copyright law, because it undermines the important and essential defense of independent creation.

     

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    Mg, Mar 9th, 2009 @ 3:15am

    Re:

    dude you failed! the chord progressions are exactly the same except that one first chord and it's an diatonic substitution which means it gives the same emotionall effect. The key can be change and whatever, it's perfectly normal to change keys even chuck berry changes his own key to C instead of B minor or something like that while playing live. The key has nothing to do with the song really. The tempo are actually exactly the same though. So what we got is, same tempo, same meter, same chord progressions, and even his singing fits the lead guitar.

     

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    GK, Mar 11th, 2009 @ 6:35pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Ahh, so this is an argument? And here I thought we were having a discussion!
    If you are indeed arguing, though, perhaps we ought to be clear whether you are commenting on the case suggested by the page's headline, or upon hypothetical musings of your own regarding which laws you'd like to change, and then I'd know what it is you wish to argue about.
    Sorry if you feel I wasn't saying anything, but in fact my comment was a comment upon nothing really being said, ie "I'm interested in better laws".
    I was commenting on the case itself; the subject area of "what I'd like the law" to be is a different matter and certainly will not impact the this case.
    That's what I meant by the futility of such criteria. Where the law can and can't loom into ridiculous extremes is based more on reality and actual cases than mere hypotheses. There is a difference between the two.

    Well, I am still here, so let's talk about "the real points" then:


    "Strongly disagree that there "has to be a certain point at which one composer is protected." Protected from what?"
    - Well, from being ripped off and having their work exploited of course! Hence the point of copyright law in the first place.


    "What does this have to do with copyright?"
    - If copyright isn't there to award the ownership and control of a work to an artist or his / her representatives, why do you think it exists?
    Without that, there would be no protection of a work from such appropriation and / or misppropriation, an artist would no longer be able to create professionally (one needs the financial fruits of one's labors - and, inherently, the ownership of such) for fiscal survival) and -
    as a result of such a financial lack of respect for the artist and therefore the arts - much great art would not happen.
    If the Rolling Stones had had to record and gig inbetween, say, driving cabs to get by, their careers would undoubtedly have been different, their output forcibly diminished.
    The modern musical world would be a different - and drearier - place because of it.
    If Picasso hadn't had time to paint, how much of his art would have come to fruition?
    When Paul McCartney releases an album, people buy it because his track record is great. Because they know who he is.
    Not because he's rich, but because his - yes, protected - body of work has resulted in his being "a name" - because he's built a REPUTATION.
    Hence "promoting the progress of science and the useful arts". And this does include past body of work. Sir Paul deserves to be known as the guy who wrote "Yesterday", rather than as one of the people who did a song like that, which easily could have been the case without his comosition being protected by copyright.
    Unfortunately, not everyone views art in correct historical chronological order. Not everyone even realizes who did it first. We see examples of this all the time, but thankfully a composition itself IS a protected work.



    "Copyright is not about protecting reputations"
    - Let me refer to the Berne Convention, with which the US aligned itself on Oct 31st 1988:
    Here is the US article on Sec.3:

    "Sec. 3. Construction of the Berne Convention.

    (a) Relationship With Domestic Law. - The provisions of the Berne Convention -

    (1) shall be given effect under title 17, as amended by this Act, and any other relevant provision of Federal or State law, including the common law; and

    (2) shall not be enforceable in any action brought pursuant to the provisions of the Berne Convention itself.

    (b) Certain Rights Not Affected. - The provisions of the Berne Convention, the adherence of the United States thereto, and satisfaction of United States obligations thereunder, do not expand or reduce any right of an author of a work, whether claimed under Federal, State, or the common law -

    (1) to claim authorship of the work; or

    (2) to object to any distortion, mutilation, or other modification of, or other derogatory action in relation to, the work, that would prejudice the author's honor or reputation."

    Hmm, there it is: "the author's honor or reputation".

    Do I need to say more?



    "Once something is in the public domain, you can do what you want with it, without giving any credit."
    - True. But Joe Satriani's composition isn't in the public domain. In many years time, with his honor and reputation intact, it's fair game. Right now, legally and morally, it isn't.
    On the subject of "attribution", if that's the key - if that's "what's important" - then it really isn't about the money, is it? But obviously to an artist in the midst of an active career in the arts, money is a factor.
    And if someone else is making a LOT of money without attributing to you what belongs to you, then of course the money issue relates the the injustice.
    Are we talking about whether it's the number one issue or whether it's an issue at all? And, as I said, part of Satriani's lawyer's stance may be based on previous communications with Coldplay's lawyers.
    Again, we don't know those circumstances.


    "b) Satriani's own personal, artistic peace of mind... would, certainly to some extent, be achieved. That satisfaction may be of real importance to him.

    That's nice if it's important to him, but "artistic peace of mind" is not important for copyright law. Copying is."
    - It's more than "nice" - such matters, whether you acknowledge it or not, are often the driving force for artists' wish to retain proper credit for their work.
    Not to say financial issues don't matter, but it doesn't have to be one or the other, both issues can come into play. And if an artist's "artistic peace of mind" drives him/her to invoke the legal ramifications of copying, then it's entirely relevant to a copyright case.


    "The world would also be a far sorrier place if people constantly abuse the law and twist it for their own ends. This is not what copyright law is about."
    - Is that a comment on Satriani's legal action, or on Coldplay's violation? Using the law to stand up for yourself isn't really "abusing" and "twisting" it in the way that looking for loopholes so you might get away with something is.


    "If it's about respect and legacy for people now, that's because they don't understand the real intent of copyright law. That's why they file lawsuits like this."
    - I doubt that the legal teams - and judges - invloved in such cases have somehow missed the point and that you have answers they never thought of, to be honest.


    " The constitutional basis for copyright is not at all about "protecting" anyone's rights? What rights? The rights granted by copyright law are artificial and temporary, there are not natural rights. It's about an economic incentive, "promoting the progress."
    - "Promoting the progress" often hinges on the artist's rights, reputation and many other factors involved in assembling an overall succesful and important artistic career. It seems US law DOES realize this. "Not natural rights" is your opinion, not the legal actuality.
    Did I miss the term "economic incentive" in the US Copyright law or is that your own editorial insertion?


    "If copyright were about "protecting the rights of an artist," why is there a public domain?"
    - I'll answer that with a question, if I may: Why is no work by a LIVING composer in the public domain?

    "No one is suggesting that attribution alone is a business model. But, for an artist, having your work recognized is key to paying the bills."
    - I agree with this statement of yours from that other article. So how is that "clearly" not what I'm talking about? The composer retaining the right to say what he does or doesn't want done with his creations is surely a key issue in this.
    Here is the statement I made to which you pointed that accusation:
    "if a song is built around another composer's work, that composer (through his publishing company) must grant rights and the subsequent song must be approved, often by the composer him/herself."
    That results in proper attribution and "paying the bills" ie proper financial recompense. Where is your contention with this?


    "It's about permission, and licensing, and money. Because copyright is an economic incentive. And what if it was some small independent artist, what means would they have of getting permission? They probably wouldn't create or would be forced to create something different, because they wouldn't be able to get permission or afford the risk of a lawsuit.
    - Permission intrinsically hinges on credit. To be in a position to grant permission does mean you are inherently given your fair credit as originator of the work. Yes, small independent acts need to get permission too. It's part of the law.
    Even an amateur performance in a small village is subject to the law, though these are never really upheld because the composer's rights and, yes, repuation as creator of the work are not substantially jeopardized. Now, if the performer were to claim credit him or herself - and make millions doing so - it'd be a different matter.
    And it is.


    "That's just ridiculous. (1) How many films put out by big content companies or remakes of old films, or books turned into movies? How many cover songs have there been? These build on previous works. Copyright is about permission, and thus, usually licensing."
    - Cover versions and remakes give the proper credit to the original. What don't you understand about this?


    "(2) Read much Shakespeare? How much did he borrow from others? He'd have been in violation of copyright law, were the works he build off under copyright."
    - I've studied Shakespeare at a post-grad level and performed Shakespeare professionally as an actor in the UK for six years. Yes, I've read him.
    it cannot be accurately proved how much he borrowed, how much of it would have been in the public domain at his time, or if he'd have granted attribution were it necessary.


    "(3) Again, talk about subjectivity: define "sufficiently different as to be deemed original.""
    - It's for a court to decide. In general terms, to the point where it no longer becomes quickly recognized as the original melody. It's why musicologists and laymen both are often utilized in cases like this.


    "(4) What's wrong with creating things that aren't original anyways? That's often how we learn to create, by imitating."
    - Nothing wrong with it at all. Just be honest and give credit where it belongs. Yes, both morally/artistically and financially, insomuch as is appropriate for the given situation.


    It is a matter of opinion how you take Lewis' comment. To me it seems he is talking about the creative spark -
    not trying merely to deliberately do something different, but to be honest to oneself and get on with the business of creating.
    That's different from post-creation editing: if you end up with too many similarities to something which someone else did, you can change a few things and retain your creative honesty.
    I don't think for a moment he is saying "go ahead and rip people off"! I wonder what he'd have said if someone copied essential parts of his books too closely? Or if his name were omitted from a remake of "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe"?
    All that is aside from the fact that CS Lewis is not the first person one thinks of when looking for someone really qualified to comment on the state of the music industry in 2009.

    "The Satriani/Coldplay lawsuit seems to be an example of how copyright discourages many forms of creation.
    To be focused on "originality, respect and legacy" is to (a) miss the intent of copyright law, and (b) encourage artist to file and worry about lawsuits like this, rather than to create art."
    - I have to disagree. Creativity is simply not that fragile to a true artist. To deny that the lack of a cheap "fallback" is incentive to find original sounds, styles and statements is to fail to understand the creative process itself.
    I agree with Mr. Geoff Taylor - the Chief Executive of the BPI (That's the British Phonographic Industry - a not inconsiderable representative organization), when he says, "Copyright stimulates investment in musical talent and encourages innovation."
    I reckon he knows a thing or two about the music business, too.
    Also British Minister for Culture Andy Burnham, when he says, "It's only right that someone who created or contributed to something of real value gets to benefit for the full course of their life,"
    as well as when he states that, "There is a moral case for performers benefiting from their work throughout their entire lifetime." That latter quote, incidentally, was from the UK Music Creators' Conference in London.
    I'm not sure how less democratic countries view the issues, but I know that Soviet Russia did indeed offer their composers less personal protection and credit. Perhaps that kind of approach would fit in with your idea of "better laws" than those of America?
    What is it that makes you think the vast number of important and educated people in our society who do realize the importance of artistic respect and recompense somehow "miss the intent of copyright law"?


    You keep throwing around the phrase "independent creation", but you are missing an extremely important and relevant factor:
    Copying, under US law, is proved by ONE OF TWO forms of evidence.
    The first is "Direct Evidence", where it can be proven that active and intentional copying took place. But, of course, it doesn't end there.
    The second is "Circumstantial Evidence" which hinges on TWO factors:
    (a) Access to the original work and
    (b) Degree of similarity to the original work.
    Additionally, as I mentioned previously, since it is a combination of those two factors, the greater the similarity, the less the need to prove access.
    That issue, however, is not a problem here.
    Access is PROVED by the fact that the original composition was available worldwide through a major record label. That's easily enough evidence in this case.
    This fact utterly negates the effectiveness and relevance of any attempt at an "independent creation" defence.
    We aren't talking about an unknown, unavailable, obscure work, but something that was most definitely "out there".
    When the factor of such access to the work creates such strong circumstantial evidence, a claim of "independent creation" would make for a pretty quick trial!
    In a situation such as this, it's no realistic legal defence at all.

    You see, though there are indeed differences in the details of Patent Law and Music Copyright (in no small part due to the nature of "industrial secrets" et al), the bottom line - the end result -
    is quite comparable indeed. A filed patent and a released recording of a composition both prove ownership of the idea itself and offer the owner of said intellectual property the opportunity for both recognition and reward.
    Some prize one over the other, that's their human right to do so. But both are important and of relevance in a society which respects the arts themsleves.
    In actuality, copyright of a composition lasts far longer than ownership of the patent itself for an invention, for quite a few reasons.
    But the similarities hinge upon the reality that once ownership is legally established, anything which infringes upon its intellectual property rights is in violation.
    And it's certainly not "flat out wrong" to point out this matter of fact.

     

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    GK, Mar 12th, 2009 @ 8:52pm

    George Harrison case

    Incidentally, a very intelligent article written by Joseph C. Self, a great legal brain, on the Harrison/Mack case:

    (By the way, copyright for the article rightly belongs to its author)

    www.abbeyrd.best.vwh.net/mysweet.htm

    http://abbeyrd.best.vwh.net/mysweet.htm

     

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  152.  
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    GK, Mar 12th, 2009 @ 8:53pm

    The second link is the correct one:

    http://abbeyrd.best.vwh.net/mysweet.htm

     

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  153.  
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    GK, Mar 12th, 2009 @ 9:08pm

    PS: Another reference, plus references to other cases regarding copyright infringements, is found here:

    http://www.illegal-art.org/audio/historic.html

     

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  154.  
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    GK, Mar 14th, 2009 @ 3:43pm

    In response to the "there are only twelve notes" argument,
    here's a very informative article.............

    http://www.arttimesjournal.com/music/mathematical.htm

     

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  155.  
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    Anthony, Mar 15th, 2009 @ 7:54pm

    Re: Twelve Notes Argument

    Interesting but completely irrelevant. Correct mathematically but hopelessly incorrect musically.

    I enjoyed reading the article Blaise, but what do you make of a "simple coincidence" happening in three songs (or even two) over such a relatively short period of time?

     

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  156.  
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    GK, Mar 15th, 2009 @ 7:58pm

    "Interesting but completely irrelevant. Correct mathematically but hopelessly incorrect musically."

    - Explain why you think that is so? Given that, musically, anything is possible.

     

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    GK, Mar 15th, 2009 @ 9:01pm

    Interestingly enough, James Moody has gone on record as saying it would take, and I quote, "thousands of years" to exhaust all the possibilities of the 12-note scale.
    Nobody could seriously claim James Moody to be "hopelessly incorrect musically".

     

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    Anthony, Mar 16th, 2009 @ 7:55am

    Re:

    "Given that, musically, anything is possible"

    I disagree. How many 'pop' songs, since this is the genre in question, use all 12 notes in the scale, let alone different octaves? A high percentage of the theoretical variations of the notes would be disgarded immediately, since they would not create any 'melody'. Many notes are also retricted by the few chord changes that occur in pop songs.

    If music was composed by simply picking notes, length of notes etc without hearing how they sounded then maybe Frank Behrens has a point, but that just isn't how songs are written.

    It is a bit like saying there is absolutely no chance of the same chess game/position arising twice, given that mathematically an astronomical number of variations exist ("The number of legal positions in chess is estimated to be between 10^43 and 10^50, with a game-tree complexity of approximately 10^123" Wikipedia), yet games/positions/themes arise again and again. This is because the vast majority variations of moves are disregarded because they are simply no good.

    Obviously this is non-music related, but I think it is another good example of how mathematically possible and practically possible are completely different.

    Do you think Coldplays lawyers would use Frank Behrens calculations/James Moody as a witness as part of their defense?

     

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    GK, Mar 16th, 2009 @ 9:30am

    Re: Re:

    Well, the latter half of the James Moody quote is, "but we try." He's such a wonderful musician.
    The point, initially, was that it's just not true - and provable as such - to say that there are a limited number of possibilities for melodic invention. I don't believe that to be the case at all and, of course, the math states unequivocally that there is a most considerable amount of possibilities.
    I suppose, though, it might depend upon the composer's sense of ambition and creativity. The great composers and musicians see possibilities where others might not. This is a part of why they are the greats. This certainly includes "pop" music.
    Queen, for example, have had, in their time, many unusual melodies (in that they were very different from the "norm" and the "safe" options of the day) that were frowned upon by knee-jerk reactions from outsiders who told them that the public would never listen to such things. Which, of course, proved to be a fallacy. This is just one example of many that occur in merely the last half-century.
    Sgt. Pepper's, might I dare to suggest, would never have happened and subsequently never altered the way the general public perceives pop music had they not taken some bold chances and instead had merely stuck to what is tried-and-tested and what was proven, rejecting the rest as "no good". They made melodic choices that would have been unthinkable in the '50s. It is generally how new trails have been (no pun intended) "blazed". If we look at the history of popular music itself, great turning points are almost always accompanied by unusual-for-the-time sets of melodic intervals.
    Thankfully, in music and unlike in chess, it is impossible to lose, so there are no "fatal" choices.
    In Brian Eno's words, "you can crash and burn and walk away". It really is a major and crucial difference between a game and an art.

    As so many of the great composers in all styles have discovered and explored, the road less-traveled is loaded with musical joy. When put together skilfully, there is untold beauty in, say, the ethereal quality of the Lydian Mode, the winding darkness of the Hungarian Minor, the sunny depth of the Phrygian Dominant, the silvery flexibility of the Super Locrian et al.


    The minor 6th interval, for instance, is often avoided melodically. And yet "Theme from Love Story" utilizes it brilliantly. Note, too, Bernstein's deft use of the Major 7th and the Augmented 4th. A lesser composer may indeed have failed to explore these sounds, instead opting for the safe route in the belief that that's what "works". But a creative mind such as Bernstein's reaches that bit further - for the good of us all.
    I don't think it is too much of a stretch to say that the great American art-form of jazz could never have happened without a desire to explore further melodic motion than existed in its forefathers, the blues and military band music. I sincerely believe that the great Miles Davis would never have accepted the idea that some sounds are just "out of bounds".
    The calculations of Mr. Behrens illustrate that the claim that possibilites are finite is actually untrue. With cold hard fact. Whether or not you like a melody is more in issue of subjectivity. Some people hate the likes of Stockhausen and Cage and their use of the "tone-row" system, but not only can it be done, it was done.
    Most great musicians and composers, as well as artists in other arts, have been told more than once by some doubting Thomas, "you can't do that! It'll never work!" In proving that attitude wrong, much great art has been created.

    We also cannot afford to overlook the importance of style and genre. Medieval melodies undeniably differ in feel - even without taking into account the harmonic context - from Motown melodies. When a new musical genre comes into being, new melodic tendencies appear. Consider the history of the flattened fifth as an example. It is also the main difference between many indigenous musical forms throughout the world. Japanese note choices differ greatly from those of Cuba, but neither is more or less "right" or better or worse than the other. Just great illustrations of all the possibilities music offers.

    It is not at all necessary to pick out pitches and durations without hearing them in order to explore the myriad of musical and pleasing possibilities and influences. A skilled composer can take this multitude of raw materials and create great art, as history has proved, and will prove, time and time again.

    I really don't think Coldplay's lawyers would be the one that would wish to bring this issue into consideration! It may not be in the best interests of their clients to have a judge start considering just how many melodic options actually do exist.

     

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  160.  
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    Blaise Alleyne (profile), Apr 6th, 2009 @ 12:56am

    Re: Re: Twelve Notes Argument

    I enjoyed reading the article Blaise, but what do you make of a "simple coincidence" happening in three songs (or even two) over such a relatively short period of time?


    Well, there are a lot more than two or three examples of similar melodies in this thread. But I'd be inclined to say that style and genre have something to do with it (when punk is popular, so are t-shaped power chord progressions...). There have been other cases we've noticed recently where it seems that coincidence is the most likely explanation: REM sued a band in the same sort of lawsuit... without realizing that the song they alleged copyright infringement over was actually a cover version of another song, written well before their own.

     

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  161.  
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    Blaise Alleyne (profile), Apr 6th, 2009 @ 1:00am

    Re:

    In response to the "there are only twelve notes" argument,
    here's a very informative article.............

    http://www.arttimesjournal.com/music/mathematical.htm


    The problem with the calculations in that article is that they completely ignore context. Sure, you'll wind up with a gigantic number if you consider every possible permutation of notes/rhythms... but how many are actually likely? Pop music usually uses an 8-note scale, rather than a chromatic... it's usually just 3 or 4 chords, and a melody is often within those chords... there are certain changes that are natural within a particular genre... the number gets pretty small pretty quickly when you factor in context, style, genre, theory, etc.

     

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  162.  
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    Blaise Alleyne (profile), Apr 6th, 2009 @ 1:08am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Sorry for taking such a long time to respond.

    Ahh, so this is an argument? And here I thought we were having a discussion!


    Sure, argument, discussion. I don't mean that in a negative sense.


    All of the "protection" comments... "protection from exploitation" is only a good insofar as it "promotes the progress of science and the useful arts." Copyright is not about protection for protection's sake.

    If copyright isn't there to award the ownership and control of a work to an artist or his / her representatives, why do you think it exists?"


    To encourage creation by providing an economic incentive to create. Awarding ownership and (limited) control to an artist is the means through which this is done, but not the purpose of copyright.


    Regarding "financial respect" and "fiscal survival," we spend a lot of time at Techdirt highlighting countless examples of how financial success is the digital age often comes about despite copyright -- not because of it. In other words, copyright isn't essential for artists to make a living (in fact, it often gets in the way given the new opportunities that technology provides). To suggest that questioning something about copyright is to suggest that musicians would have to drive taxis is a straw man argument.


    About Paul McCartney's reputation, why is copyright essential for reputation? Did Shakespeare, Aristotle or Plato have a reputation? (sorry, too many essays in the past few weeks...) And what about the public domain?

    The purpose of copyright is not to protect an artists reputation. And if, as it seems may be the case here, independent creation is practically meaningless, then it harms artists reputations as well.


    "(2) to object to any distortion, mutilation, or other modification of, or other derogatory action in relation to, the work, that would prejudice the author's honor or reputation"


    First of all, that is not the purpose of copyright, it is a means through which an economic incentive is provided. Second, the United States doesn't actually completely recognize the moral rights you reference as part of copyright law. Third, how do you explain the public domain?


    The "far sorrier place" comment was about a lawsuit that seems to be over a case of independent creation, because Satriani is offended. Copyright specifically doesn't cover independent creation.


    I doubt that the legal teams - and judges - invloved in such cases have somehow missed the point and that you have answers they never thought of, to be honest.


    Well, in terms of getting away from the "real intent" of copyright law, I guess I meant a couple things. First, I'm not suggesting that I know the letter of the law and they don't. But often times it's much cheaper to settle these cases than take them to a court, and pay the legal fees associated with arguing your case. Take fair use for example -- extremely expensive to actually defend yourself in court over the matter.

    Second, that was in part a comment that if this is what things have come to -- lawsuits because you write a melody that sounds too similar -- then we really need to revisit the original intent of copyright, because we've strayed for from it. That's not to say that lawyers and judges don't necessarily know how to interpret that law, but that the law itself may be the problem if this is the result.


    Did I miss the term "economic incentive" in the US Copyright law or is that your own editorial insertion?


    This is not something I've come up with. This is something that many, many people argue. Mike wrote up a good summary last year. The constitution explicitly grants limited, artificial monopolies for the sake of promoting the progress. If this isn't an economic incentive, how would you describe it?

    Again, how do you explain the public domain?


    Why is no work by a LIVING composer in the public domain?


    Quite frankly, because of Mickey Mouse. Copyright only lasted for 14 years initially. But we've seen a pattern emerging over the last half century or so, let by large corporate lobbyists with financial interests in extending copyright (e.g. Disney and Mickey Mouse). That's why every 20 years or so, another law is passed in the United States to extend copyright for another 20 years. It's a travesty that it's been so long since anything has entered the public domain and, I would argue, not a feature of design but an effect of lobbyist influence in Congress.

    Even an amateur performance in a small village is subject to the law...


    So, how does copyright protect an artists ability to make a living if the small artists have to worry that they might face a giantic lawsuit if they create a melody that's too similar to something else that's under copyright?

    If the result of this lawsuit is to illustrate the independent creation really doesn't matter, even though it's supposed to, that illustrates serious problem with copyright.



    Ah, I think I understand our disagreement about attribution. My point was that it's not about attribution, but it's about permission. If attribution were the main concern, then something like a Creative Commons Attribution license would suffice. That means only attribution is required, but you're free to do what you want with a work, including profit from it. If that license were used, I would believe that attribution was the main concern. But attribution is really often a sidenote. Permission tends to be the primary concern, not attribution.

    Which is a problem, if you require permission to use something you've created independently.

    [Sufficiently different as to be deemed original]... It's for a court to decide.


    That harms creators. If you need a judge, jury and lawyer to determine whether or not you have permission to write a melody, that's a poisonous environment for new creators. Especially, if the independent creation defence is meaningless in these cases in practice.


    ...


    This response kept getting delayed because I was trying to address everything in your comment, but I just don't think I'll have the time to do that. If you're still around (subscribed to the thread?) then maybe we can continue, but I'll just post this much for now.

     

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  163.  
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    GK, Apr 6th, 2009 @ 9:18am

    Re: Re:

    "The problem with the calculations in that article is that they completely ignore context. Sure, you'll wind up with a gigantic number if you consider every possible permutation of notes/rhythms... but how many are actually likely? Pop music usually uses an 8-note scale, rather than a chromatic... it's usually just 3 or 4 chords, and a melody is often within those chords... there are certain changes that are natural within a particular genre... the number gets pretty small pretty quickly when you factor in context, style, genre, theory, etc."

    That's not true, though.

    As someone with a Bachelor's degree in music theory, I have to say there are a HUGE number of chart-topping hits that utilize some chromaticism and far more than 3 or 4 chords.
    I can give you examples if you like, but it could be a VERY long list.
    It depends, I suppose, if you're trying to create something original or not.

     

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  164.  
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    GK, Apr 6th, 2009 @ 9:30am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Hi Blaise; I have to be brief today, but I must say that even though you've restated your points I still have to disagree. There's not much point in us rehashing the same back-and-forth, but we obviously disagree on the "ignorance-as-defense" issue and the issue of the "intent" of copyright law (which is far from cut-and-dried, especially given the fact that US law was not the first to address artists' creative endeavors and the rights therein) and since neither of us has the power to change the law, the issue is whether Joe Satriani has a case - and obviously he does.

     

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  165.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 8th, 2009 @ 9:41am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "Second, the United States doesn't actually completely recognize the moral rights you reference as part of copyright law."

    Hmmm. Actually, the document I referenced [i]was[/i] from the US article on the Brene Convention, rather than the convention itself.

    Permit me to allow an expert to elaborate:
    "During the passage of the Berne Convention Implementation Act, the U.S. Congress specifically stated in 1988 (Senate Report 100-352) that rights equivalent to moral rights of authors were already recognized in the USA under:
    1. the common law of misrepresentation and unfair competition,
    2. § 43(a) of the Lanham Act, 15 USC § 1125(a)(1)(A), which prohibits "false designation of origin, false or misleading description of fact" that is "likely to cause confusion, ... mistake," or deception about "the affiliation, connection, or association" of a person with any product or service.
    3. defamation (libel) law.
    Therefore, Congress asserted that law in the USA already complied with 6bis in the Berne Convention, without any additions or changes to Copyright law in the USA."
    - Ronald B. Standler

     

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  166.  
    identicon
    GK, Apr 8th, 2009 @ 9:42am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Pardon the typo: of course, that's "Berne Convention".

     

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  167.  
    identicon
    GK, Apr 14th, 2009 @ 2:19pm

    Latest News

    The update, courtesy of CBC:



    "Coldplay has denied copying portions of a song by American guitarist Joe Satriani for the band's 2008 hit track Viva La Vida.

    In a U.S. Federal Court filing in Los Angeles on Monday, lawyers representing the British rock band argued that any similarities between Viva La Vida and Satriani's 2004 song If I Could Fly were not significant enough to warrant damages.

    Satriani, a guitarist who has played with Mick Jagger, launched a lawsuit against Coldplay in Los Angeles in December, accusing the Grammy Award-winning British band of plagiarism.

    Satriani is seeking a jury trial, and is calling for damages as well as "any and all profits" related to the alleged copyright infringement.

    Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends, Coldplay's latest release, was 2008's bestselling album, with sales of 6.8 million copies worldwide.

    It was also a major winner at February's Grammy Awards, with the track Viva la Vida picking up the coveted title of song of the year and the album named best rock album.

    The band is currently on a world tour promoting the release."


    So it looks like it will go to trial, then.

     

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  168.  
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    Blaise Alleyne (profile), Apr 14th, 2009 @ 6:06pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Therefore, Congress asserted that law in the USA already complied with 6bis in the Berne Convention, without any additions or changes to Copyright law in the USA.


    Right. So it's not covered by copyright law in the USA. In other words, as I understand it, moral rights are not a copyright issue in American law.

     

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  169.  
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    Blaise Alleyne (profile), Apr 14th, 2009 @ 6:08pm

    Re: Latest News

    Thanks for the heads up, GK.

    Also, I agree, no point in rehashing our debate in detail. I don't think we disagree too much on the legal realities, just on whether or not they are troubling.

     

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  170.  
    identicon
    GK, Apr 14th, 2009 @ 8:08pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Yeah, but if it's covered by law, it's a legal issue, with the inherent rights. And in a trial, such rights can be invoked and referred to. Which is utterly pertinent, isn't it?

     

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  171.  
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    GK, Apr 14th, 2009 @ 8:32pm

    Re: Re: Latest News

    True.

    It'll certainly be interesting to follow this case. I suspect whatever the outcome, one of us will wind up feeling concerned, and probably for quite different reasons!

    I suppose there are future ramifications no matter what happens now, which is what makes this one so interesting.

    We are increasingly living in a world unlike the one inhabited by previous generations, in terms of how music is available and distributed. No doubt there will be many more changes over the next decade. Certain issues which weren't relevant to those of the sheet music era are very much so in the digital era, and vice versa.

    It is possible that any decision made by a court could affect many in the music business for the next while, for better or worse.

    Personally, I still suspect there will be an "eleventh hour" out-of-court settlement, offering Satriani a sense of vindication and Coldplay a quieter option for laying the thing to rest.

    But if the outcome were different than that, what next?

     

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  172.  
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    Blaise Alleyne (profile), Apr 14th, 2009 @ 9:45pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Sure, moral rights are still a legal issue, but not a copyright infringement issue.

     

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  173.  
    identicon
    GK, Apr 15th, 2009 @ 7:40am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Well, they are in that they can be (and often are) considered and taken into account in a copyright infringement case. Additionally, the issue of a composer's moral rights can also influence the decision made by a judge (whose job it is to enforce the law in a copyright case) and can certainly influence the decision made by a composer on whether to take a case further or not. So a very relevant factor, despite the "blur" within US copyright law.
    There's no reason that the following:
    "1. the common law of misrepresentation and unfair competition,
    2. § 43(a) of the Lanham Act, 15 USC § 1125(a)(1)(A), which prohibits "false designation of origin, false or misleading description of fact" that is "likely to cause confusion, ... mistake," or deception about "the affiliation, connection, or association" of a person with any product or service."

    cannot be applied to a case like this one and, I must say, a good lawyer could absolutely point to the relevance, making it entirely applicable to a legal situation such as this. Exactly which law they break is beside the point - it is this fact which led to the way in which the US adopted the Berne Convention. Contrary to what some assume, they did not outright REJECT the moral rights issue, just asserted that it was provisioned for already. This, in all likelihood, wouldn't have been the situation if the pre-existing law weren't applicable to copyright cases. It is.

    The main thing with the moral issue, though, is that it often drives the aggrieved composer to invoke the letter of the law and, when the "letter" of copyright law is on their side, directly instigates the chain of the machinations of a copyright infringement case. So however the decision is made, and whichever legal section is the ultimate reference for a final decision, a sense of moral indignation is very often directly tied to the case itself.

     

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  174.  
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    Blaise Alleyne (profile), Apr 16th, 2009 @ 12:44pm

    Re: Re: Re: Latest News

    Agreed.Just published another post with an update (thanks) and my thoughts.

     

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  175.  
    identicon
    John, Apr 24th, 2009 @ 1:05pm

    It has the same tempo

    I think the reason that it is being disputed is the fact that not only does it have the same chord progression, but it does in fact have the same tempo.

     

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  176.  
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    stephen, Jul 25th, 2009 @ 5:20pm

    Re: rip off

    music is bound to be repeated and i think the reason for joe suing them is not just a musical one. Joe a man who has spent his whole life mastering music writes a song, and another band takes credit for it and makes a lot of money with it. That would be kind of upsetting. Its like they made money off his talented. Take this as an example if i rewrite the harry potter series with my own twist no ones going to say he was trying to steal her books, but if i take a relative unknown series and do the same thing which in the process i make tons of money, some people are going to be pissed. when it comes to borrowing music its kinda like knowing what stuff you can and can't borrow.

     

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  177.  
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    stephen, Jul 25th, 2009 @ 5:32pm

    Re: Re:

    it doesn't have lyrics are you retarded. First off it sucks is a opinion trying to pass it off as a fact not only makes you seem like a moron it also show you don't have any ablitiy to be non biased. Also if you are not a mucisican on a high enough level to understand how music works you can not really claim you opionion is worth anything more then a pile of shit. But seriously did you listen to the song or are you just trolling buecuase it doesn't have a single word in it. Maybe you were listening to the coldplay song that would explain why you said this song blows.

     

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  178.  
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    stephen, Jul 25th, 2009 @ 5:47pm

    Re:

    to defend joe 1 first off he tried to settle this out of court and coldplay kinda just blew him off, he actually had to wait til they came to the grammy to have his lawyer serve them the subpeona, (i think they were going to do it live at the grammies so coldplay accepted before then to avoid what would have been public embarrisment). 2 i think joe's problem is that they are winning a grammy off his music more then it is they are using his music.

     

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  179.  
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    Alice Keymer, Sep 8th, 2009 @ 2:59pm

    Re:

    I agree Lez Zeppelin especially Jimmy Page are a bunch of no talents.

     

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  180.  
    identicon
    alfred, Mar 14th, 2011 @ 1:38am

    i think the Grammy did shit. cold play got the Grammy but it wasn't true. they wanted to show Joe Satriani silly. may be they didn't copy Joe but its so similar. it happened so much to me i wrote a song then i hear my own somewhere. you may heard it before and it goes to your brain without you know and want. you cant remember it but when you want to write your self it comes down. the Grammy said that Joe your nothing. its a shit its not true. when Justin got the Grammy i know whats going on.

    Joe forever

     

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  181.  
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    Bill in Buffalo, Jun 19th, 2011 @ 11:25am

    Plagiarism, please!

    Joe Satriani, good as he is, has been robbing Eddie Van Halen all his life. He sounds just like him. Eddie was original. Joe has never been. Musicians adopt the ideas of those who played before. It's been that way forever, so unless someone directly copies someone else's work, filing suit is laughable as far as I'm concerned. It's the same with comedians.

     

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  182.  
    identicon
    Motheius, Jan 20th, 2012 @ 12:17pm

    As a musician growing up I've always heard...

    Good composers borrow, great composers steal...

    I'm really late to this party, however no one mentioned it yet.

    E

     

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  183.  
    identicon
    Clemmy, Apr 9th, 2013 @ 4:36pm

    As a musician myself I must say yes there are only so many notes in a scale, 7 tones, 12 half tones to be exact( two notes B and E have no sharps for those of you who wonder how I can arrive at 12 doubling 7 )BUT and its a wide but here, using those you can create an incredible amount of different melodies because a melody isnt one single note but a wide array of notes and silences etc And frankly when you listen to both the pieces its way too close to be coincidence in my opinion. The one big point where I have a huge problem with COldplay and which has definitely convinced me to regard them as unworthy of ever listening to is the fact that they chose to ignore mr. Satriani when he brought it up, as a fellow artist he was at the very least entitled to RESPECT and a cordial and honest response from these guys and they just wanted to blow it off and blow HIM off. That is not acceptable and I will never support Coldplay or accept to even hear their music in the future, Mr. Satriani has been a huge inspiration to me and still is, and I find their attitude inapropriate. When a legend has worked so hard for so long creating masterpiece after masterpiece and he tells you he needs to talk to you about the piece you stole from him, the least you could do is listen and try to come to a mutal accomodation which Im sure is all Mr. Satriani asked for in the first place.

     

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  184.  
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    Clemmy (profile), Apr 9th, 2013 @ 4:52pm

    Re: Plagiarism, please!

    Please, Satriani and Van Halen dont sound anything alike and have completely different styles lol. Thats like saying Robert Johnson ripped off Chuck Berry, do you even know the difference between a fender and an ibanez or at least what they are lol? Maybe Madonna copied Chopin too lmao.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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