Yusuf Islam Forgives Coldplay For Copying His Song, Even Though They Probably Didn't

from the ockham's-razor-much? dept

When Joe Satriani sued Coldplay for copyright infringment last December, lots of people were quick to notice that a bunch of other songs shared the same melody, including some predating Satriani's tune. Last month, Yusuf Islam (formerly known as Cat Stevens) made headlines claiming that Coldplay had "stolen" the melody from him, not Satriani. Islam's 1973 song was one of many that people had noticed which sounded similar, but Islam was sure Coldplay got the melody from him ("if you listen to it, it's mine!") and said he'd decide whether or not to take legal action "depending on how well Satriani does." Now, Islam is talking about it again, this time saying he's not angry with Coldplay:
I stand by what I said. They did copy my song but I don't think they did it on purpose. I can understand why they got so upset because they probably don't even realise they have done it. It happens all the time. I have even copied myself without knowing I have done it. I'll write down what I think is a new melody and then listen back to it and realise it's the same as something I have already done. It's just one of those things and I don't want them to think I'm angry with them. I'd love to sit down and have a cup of tea with them and let them know it's ok.
That's a step up from Satriani's "dagger through my heart" response, especially if he's suggesting the cup of tea instead of a lawsuit (though, TwentyFourBit notes that the Flaming Lips would be annoyed if Coldplay gets a tea settlement while they got a royalty split). But it's still odd that Islam is so convinced that the melody is his. What about all the other songs with the same melody? Islam doesn't even entertain the possibility that no copying took place, that it's just a natural melody to sing over those chords. He's forgiving them for something they deny having done, and, although upset initially, Chris Martin actually said the claims are inspiration to write better songs. It's nice to see Islam recognize that this sort of thing "happens all the time" and that "it's ok" -- and hopefully that means he's given up on a lawsuit -- but he fails to admit even the possibility that Coldplay came up with the melody on their own. Regardless, this can't be helping Satriani's case.


Reader Comments (rss)

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  1.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Jun 17th, 2009 @ 1:06pm

    Fair enough

    "Yusuf Islam Forgives Coldplay For Copying His Song, Even Though They Probably Didn't"

    And I forgive Yusuf Islam for molesting me when I was a child, even though he probably didn't.

     

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  2.  
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    aguywhoneedstenbucks, Jun 17th, 2009 @ 1:29pm

    Re: Fair enough

    Even though he probably didn't, I don't forgive him for it.

     

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  3.  
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    Osno, Jun 17th, 2009 @ 1:33pm

    I think Cat Stevens thinks that anyone that copies a song (even himself) is copying from him. He doesn't say "Sometimes I write a song and I find it's similar to something I've heard", he says "(...) and realize it's the same as something I have already done".

     

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  4.  
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    Farrell McGovern (profile), Jun 17th, 2009 @ 1:38pm

    ...logical out come....

    The logical outcome of all of these rights grabs and other copyright insanity is that the only way you can put out an "original" song is to get a random number generator and use that to create the notes to a song!

    Sheesh!

     

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  5.  
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    jm, Jun 17th, 2009 @ 1:41pm

    Still don't understand why Satriani wasn't Cat Stevens' original target since he's obviously aware of his claim against Coldplay and Satriani's song came out before Coldplay's.

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 17th, 2009 @ 2:50pm

    Re: ...logical out come....

    you'd then have to check that arrangement of notes against every song ever written, just to be safe, and then determine the percent similarity to the closest match, and then decide if it's far enough away from that to publish.

    An interesting geek exercise, but impractical to execute. Weakening the copyright laws is a far more palatable option

     

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  7.  
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    Krubuntu (profile), Jun 17th, 2009 @ 3:14pm

    It does happen all the time...

    It does happen all the time and you can especially tell by the recent increase in the so called "Mash Ups" being posted on Vimeo & You Tube. Kid Rock had a hit Mash Up with his song that combined "Sweet Home Alabama" and "The Werewolves of London" because both songs have almost the same drum beat, bass line and chord progression. I've noticed it for years especially being an occasional guitar player. I learned how to play "Skulls" by punk band, The Misfits, years ago. Later, the band Bush came out with the song "Glycerine" and I couldn't figure out why it sounded so familiar...then I learned to play it and noticed it was the exact same fingering and chord progression as the song "Skulls" but slower, softer and tuned down a bit. I didn't see Glenn Danzig suing Gavin Rossdale over this.
    Silly, but tea is at least a civilized settlement.

    You can hear each song for your self at You Tube:
    Skulls http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NkNSZJj9G3s
    Glycerine http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pU6KhFWvKPM

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 17th, 2009 @ 3:21pm

    And ABC song copied "twinkle twinkle little star"

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 17th, 2009 @ 3:49pm

    Sue the alphabet!

     

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

  10.  
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    bob, Jun 17th, 2009 @ 4:33pm

    Cat Should Be Fornicated By A Pig

    Well He Should!

     

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  11.  
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    bob, Jun 17th, 2009 @ 4:35pm

    Cat Should Be

    Four Nigh Kate Edu by a pig.
    Well he should!

     

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  12.  
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    Elmo, Jun 17th, 2009 @ 4:37pm

    This old man
    he played one
    he played knick-knack on my drum
    knick-knack-paddy-wack give a dog a bone
    this old man came rolling home

    I love you
    You love me
    were a happy family
    with a great big hug
    and a kiss from me 2 you
    wont you say you love me 2

    This old man should sue Barney!

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 17th, 2009 @ 11:49pm

    Re: Re: ...logical out come....

    No, because using a random number generator itself is someone else's ideas so they can so you for patent infringement.

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 17th, 2009 @ 11:51pm

    Re: Re: Re: ...logical out come....

    sue you for patent infringement *

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 17th, 2009 @ 11:53pm

    Re:

    Copyright infringement!

     

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

  16.  
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    Whisk33, Jun 18th, 2009 @ 5:47am

    Re:

    Because Coldplay has more money.
    (do you actually think this is about copyright?)

     

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  17.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Jun 18th, 2009 @ 6:26am

    Re: It does happen all the time...

    "I've noticed it for years especially being an occasional guitar player."

    Me too, actually. Learning to play the songs on the guitar also goes a long way to show what corporate rock bands lack in imagination. For instance, try learning to play songs by the Rolling Stones post-1979. Or rather, just learn one, since then you've learned them all.

     

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  18.  
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    Almost Anonymous (profile), Jun 18th, 2009 @ 9:26am

    Depends on your definition I suppose

    """They did copy my song but I don't think they did it on purpose."""

    """Islam doesn't even entertain the possibility that no copying took place, that it's just a natural melody to sing over those chords."""

    """It's nice to see Islam recognize that this sort of thing "happens all the time" and that "it's ok" -- and hopefully that means he's given up on a lawsuit -- but he fails to admit even the possibility that Coldplay came up with the melody on their own."""

    Blaise, what I take away from Yusuf's statement is that even if they had written this song without ever having heard Yusuf's song (which may well be the case), he would still consider it to be "copied" because his song came first. To him it was the timeline that mattered. But he also goes on to basically say "No big deal." I disagree with Yusuf's definition of copied in this case, but the total gist of his message seems very valid to me.

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 19th, 2009 @ 1:07am

    Re:

    old man playing 'knick-knack' on your 'drum' huh?

     

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  20.  
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    Blaise Alleyne (profile), Jun 19th, 2009 @ 1:07am

    Re: Depends on your definition I suppose

    "Blaise, what I take away from Yusuf's statement is that even if they had written this song without ever having heard Yusuf's song (which may well be the case), he would still consider it to be "copied" because his song came first. To him it was the timeline that mattered. But he also goes on to basically say "No big deal." I disagree with Yusuf's definition of copied in this case, but the total gist of his message seems very valid to me."

    Well, yeah, I realize it's a bit more complex. For example (and just for argument's sake)... if Coldplay copied from Satrian, and Satriani copied from Islam, then it's still "Islam's melody" ultimately.

    But I think there are two main problems still.
    1. What if it wasn't copied at all? With so many examples of the same melody, what are the chances that everyone someone copied from Islam (or from someone else who copied from Islam) versus that at least some of them came up with the melody independently? If they came up with it independently, it doesn't matter if Islam came up with it earlier; it's not copied.
    2. What's so original about Islam? Now, I don't know much about Yusuf Islam's / Cat Steven's music, but he obviously must have had inspirations and been affected by the music he listened to as well. What makes him so sure that the melody originated with his song? I don't know of any well known examples before him (though, some of the recent examples are from independent artists who we likely wouldn't have heard of in an earlier time), but I'm skeptical that Islam's creation is so "pure" and "uncopied" given how many other artists have used a similar melody


    You're right though, depends what he means by copying. To expand copying to include unconscious copying is one thing, but to expand the definition to include independent creation is nonsensical.

     

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  21.  
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    blasphemer, Jul 20th, 2009 @ 6:47pm

    neh.. islam ruins everything.. by islam i meant the religion..

     

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  22.  
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    EXPRESS, Jul 21st, 2009 @ 12:47pm

    Re:

    U NEED 2 SHUT UP AND STOP TALKING BOUT ISLAM JUST CASUE U DNT KNO SHIT..... U GET EVERYTHING FROM THE MEDIA... TAT'S BULLSHIT... AND NOOOOOOOOOO ISLAM DOSEN'T RUIN EVERYTHING?!

     

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  23.  
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    blasphemer, Jul 21st, 2009 @ 10:17pm

    i know you are a muslim, its ok. i understand. you people are oppressed by religious dogma. the quran is full of misogyny, violence, hate and its just a well-written fairytale.

     

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


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