Is Using A Single Lyric From A Musician You're A Fan Of 'Theft' Or 'An Homage'?

from the i'd-go-with-the-latter dept

A few different folks have submitted variations on this story of singer Taylor Swift copying a single lyric from a singer for whom she'd long expressed admiration. That singer, Matt Nathanson, responded the way any normal person would: by being happy about the homage and recognizing how it might draw more attention... I'm sorry, what was I saying? I meant that he called one of his biggest fans, who just happens to be a hugely popular singer with a ridiculously loyal following, a thief.
In case you were wondering:
Here’s the Taylor Swift line:

“And I forget about you long enough to forget why I needed to”

Here’s Matt Nathanson’s:

“And I’ll forget about you long enough to forget why I need to”
Considering that Swift has admitted that Nathanson is a personal favorite, and that she sometimes scribbles his lyrics on her arm before performing (?!?!?), it's unlikely to be a case that both of them came up with the lyric independently, though it's not exactly the most original lyric.

Either way, welcome to the latest edition of "ownership society" in which even an homage is attacked as "theft."


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    :Lobo Santo (profile), Nov 7th, 2012 @ 11:50am

    2 Singers enter, 1 Singer leaves!

    Well, as I care for neither of these artists, I'd like to call for the simple expedient of a death-match.

    Whoever wins can keep all the lyrics.

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 7th, 2012 @ 11:56am

    i dont suppose there's any chance of this behaviour damaging his career, is there? what a pity! self-centered arse hole doesn't deserve to have fans!

     

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  3.  
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    John Doe, Nov 7th, 2012 @ 11:58am

    Wow

    So he decided to start a war of words with one of his biggest fans who also happens to be a huge star. Seems he should have been trying to use her fandom to his advantage instead of making sure she never listens to him again.

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 7th, 2012 @ 12:01pm

    Re:

    Well, I'm going to go out on a limb and say her fanbase is bigger than his, and unlikely to respond well to this.

     

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  5.  
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    Rich, Nov 7th, 2012 @ 12:03pm

    Re: 2 Singers enter, 1 Singer leaves!

    Whatever happened to that Celebrity Death-match claymation? That was awesome.

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 7th, 2012 @ 12:07pm

    Re: Re:

    "Well, I'm going to go out on a limb and say her fanbase is bigger than his, and unlikely to respond well to this."
    Not much of a limb to go out on, since I've never heard of this dude.

     

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  7.  
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    Baldaur Regis (profile), Nov 7th, 2012 @ 12:09pm

    Re: 2 Singers enter, 1 Singer leaves!

    Her kung-fu is stronger than his.

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 7th, 2012 @ 12:10pm

    This is the kind of shit that makes me sick to my stomach when I hear the word "copyright".

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 7th, 2012 @ 12:11pm

    Who has copyright on "ownership society"?

     

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  10.  
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    Baldaur Regis (profile), Nov 7th, 2012 @ 12:13pm

    And I’ll forget about these "inoffensive acoustic singer-songwriters" (as gawker classifies them) long enough to forget why I need to.

     

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  11.  
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    Jon Renaut (profile), Nov 7th, 2012 @ 12:14pm

    Well, I'm going to go throw away all my Matt Nathanson albums right now because clearly I can get exactly the same thing from Taylor Swift.

    Wait. Who is Matt Nathanson?

     

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  12.  
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    Another AC, Nov 7th, 2012 @ 12:14pm

    Well maybe she is a thief

    I mean, maybe she stole his heart...

    But seriously, that's some good advice Matt should follow - he should forget about her long enough to forget he I needed to.

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 7th, 2012 @ 12:16pm

    I have come to inform you that I just copyrighted the entire English dictionary. All words in the English language belong to me. If you need to speak English I can license you for a starting plan of $50 a month for up to 10,000 words. If you exceed the limit you will be charge .05 for each additional word. There will also be an additional charges for listening, reading, and writing in English. Failure to license the English language will result in a permanent ban and you will be forced to switch languages and have the English language database deleted from your cerebral cortex.

     

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  14.  
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    Austin (profile), Nov 7th, 2012 @ 12:16pm

    Must...refrain...

    I was trying to come up with some sort of excellent retort or funny aside to post in response to this lunacy, but I think I have developed some sort of strange chemical imbalance wherein, when a story on Techdirt reaches the highest levels of "OMG how fucking dumb can you be?"-ness, I start seeing blood and feeling rage and can't think straight.

    Is this normal? Maybe this only happens with prolonged Techdirt reading? Perhaps I need to lay off it for a while or something? And how did my CD collection end up in shattered pieces on the floor?!

    Oh well, back to The Bay.

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 7th, 2012 @ 12:16pm

    bah, its even funier that hes now deleted the tweet.. LOL

     

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  16.  
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    Dood, Nov 7th, 2012 @ 12:20pm

    Dum dum dum

    I love how these supposed writers don't even know how to use the english language appropriately. They should understand what the words theft, steal, copy, etc mean before trying to use them.

    Morons.

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 7th, 2012 @ 12:22pm

    Re:

    ...Nathanson, Nathanson....wasn't he one of those guys who stuck his dick in a hornet's nest?

     

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  18.  
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    Nathan F (profile), Nov 7th, 2012 @ 12:23pm

    Re:

    Doesn't the fool know that the Internet never forgets?

     

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  19.  
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    Jason, Nov 7th, 2012 @ 12:34pm

    Publicity

    This guy is going to get great publicity from this. I bet his name's going to be mentioned at Ms. Swift's next concert. To bad that mention will also contain the word douchebag.

    I bet Swift is never, ever, ever going to listen to his songs again...

     

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  20.  
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    Zakida Paul (profile), Nov 7th, 2012 @ 12:34pm

    Re:

    I do

     

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  21.  
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    Travis, Nov 7th, 2012 @ 12:36pm

    Say who?

    I've never heard of this Matt dood. Apparently all copyright douchetards have never heard of marketing and are fond of shooting themselves in the financial foot.

     

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  22.  
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    jilocasin, Nov 7th, 2012 @ 12:40pm

    Everyone will have to come up with their own words now.....

    I guess this is the end game of owning ideas. From now on everyone will have to come up with their own words to express their own ideas. Anything else makes you a thief.

    Let's see how that works;

    "Fo muvh eadvofj. R04fj2dadOIHfq24 IEUrwq03 OIF- q3w89re roif3r oar30hf oyawer."

    Anyone understand me?

    If yes;
    You owe me royalties for thinking my patent pending language.
    (I'll waive them on the condition that you don't turn me in for using someone else's idea ;)

    If no;
    What exactly is the point of that?!?@#!?

    Words, language, only works if we use shared utterances. Otherwise no one else can understand what you're saying.

    Since by definition every word you use has to be known by someone else first (how else did _you_ learn it?) we either have to give up the silly notion that we can own words and phrases or just stop communicating. Admittedly for some people that sounds like a good idea.

    If Taylor Swift reused a phrase from Matt Nathanson, who cares? Songs are written about other songs, about poems, about books.

    "Wuthering Heights" the book by Emily Brontė lead to a songs by Kate Bush. She was inspired by the 1970 film of the movie. Some of the lyrics are quotes of the book. ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wuthering_Heights_%28song%29 ) I guess the Brontė estate should get to suing. Perhaps people just weren't that silly in the late 70's (clothing not withstanding).

    The sooner we get over the collective delusion that we can _own_ words or ideas the better off we as a species will be.

     

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  23.  
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    Rich, Nov 7th, 2012 @ 12:43pm

    Re: Dum dum dum

    They'll just claim poetic license.

     

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  24.  
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    Zakida Paul (profile), Nov 7th, 2012 @ 1:06pm

    If every musician whined when another used a line from their songs, there would be no music. He should dry up.

     

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  25.  
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    crade (profile), Nov 7th, 2012 @ 1:15pm

    She stoleded my words! My words!!!! I said them firstedness!

     

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  26.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 7th, 2012 @ 1:15pm

    Google Books

    Just think of the fun publishers could have with the results of the Google Books project.:-D

     

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  27.  
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    Indy, Nov 7th, 2012 @ 1:26pm

    Interesting logic there...

    She's definitely a fan

    Tweet stole words from many many decades ago...

     

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  28.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 7th, 2012 @ 1:26pm

    what a fucktard

     

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  29.  
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    RonKaminsky (profile), Nov 7th, 2012 @ 1:27pm

    Re:

    Yeah, I know what you mean. The title of the post by ":Lobo Santo", "2 Singers enter, 1 Singer leaves!" made me think instead of "2 Singers, 1 Copyright" --- if you know what I mean...

     

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  30.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 7th, 2012 @ 1:29pm

    And now I'm gonna steal that idiot's music. Wait, no I won't. I don't want that shit even for free.

     

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  31.  
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    Joe Publius (profile), Nov 7th, 2012 @ 1:47pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Not much of a limb to go out on, since I've never heard of this dude.

    He's one of those romantic singer-songwriter with a guitar weenie types. Like that guy who learned to play guitar to pick up girls in college, except with a record contract, and an apparent distaste for Taylor Swift.

     

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  32.  
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    Vic, Nov 7th, 2012 @ 1:50pm

    But I can bet that actually it was him who stole words: "... I forget about you long enough ..." first! Somebody mast have already used them before his song was written...

     

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  33.  
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    DanZee (profile), Nov 7th, 2012 @ 2:01pm

    Money

    He just thinks he's going to make a million dollars from Taylor. Look at what happened to the Katy Perry song where Snoop Dog "talked" the Beach Boys' line "Don't you wish they could all be California Girls?" The record company took Snoop Dog off the album and put out a Snoop Dog-less version!

     

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  34.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 7th, 2012 @ 2:40pm

    Re:

    I could have met Matt Nathanson earlier this year. He was the opening act for Kelly Clarkson. Between his performance and Kelly's there was an intermission during which he was meeting with fans and signing autographs. However, I was right in front of the stage and there was NO WAY I was giving up my position.

     

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  35.  
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    sehlat (profile), Nov 7th, 2012 @ 3:13pm

    Hmm. Let's compare the performers.

    Taylor Swift: "As a songwriter, she has been honored by the Nashville Songwriters Association and the Songwriters Hall of Fame. Swift's other achievements include six Grammy Awards, ten American Music Awards, seven Country Music Association Awards, six Academy of Country Music Awards and thirteen BMI Awards." -- Wikipedia

    Matt Nathanson: [crickets]

    The whole thing sounds more like a publicity grab by a small-time performer attacking one of the giants for some cheap attention.

    I think I'll go have a listen to Ms. Swift.

     

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  36.  
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    Violated (profile), Nov 7th, 2012 @ 3:38pm

    Assigned

    Someone needs to look up the word "homage"

    Taylor Swift fans now have a job to do. Nothing these days is ever unique so study Matt Nathanson's music and find out what he copied and from whom.

    Showing he is a hypocrite is the best form of revenge.

     

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  37.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 7th, 2012 @ 3:59pm

    Of all people he could have called a thief, he had to do it to Taylor Swift?

    Well, he's fucked now. Now he'll have to suffer the ignominy of Taylor Swift writing a song for him like she did for Whathisname Jonas and Kanye West...

     

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  38.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 7th, 2012 @ 3:59pm

    Copyrighting all words

    I have come to inform you that I just copyrighted the entire English dictionary.

    Oh! Oh! I call dibs on Chinese!

     

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  39.  
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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Nov 7th, 2012 @ 5:41pm

    Instead of... oh the smart idea of tweeting her and saying can we cut a track together, he called her a thief.
    That will work out well.

    Everyone get some more screenshots, you've now seen another career suicide note sent via twitter.

     

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  40.  
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    Spaceman Spiff (profile), Nov 7th, 2012 @ 9:09pm

    Be an ass, get nothing from me!

    I guess this person doesn't want any of my hard-earned $$. I don't support trolls, and he is acting like one!

     

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  41.  
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    Shon Gale (profile), Nov 8th, 2012 @ 5:37am

    Country musicians copy each other all the time. Every song is a copy.I mean it's country music! What more can you do to it? What more can they say in a lyric? All American Music is copied from somebody.

     

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  42.  
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    orbitalinsertion (profile), Nov 8th, 2012 @ 7:54am

    Homage? I guess. Thief? No. Possibly infringing? Maybe, given the ridiculous state of copyright law.

     

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

  43.  
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    orbitalinsertion (profile), Nov 8th, 2012 @ 7:57am

    Re: Re: Dum dum dum

    Poetic license: Revoked.

     

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  44.  
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    The Groove Tiger (profile), Nov 8th, 2012 @ 8:19am

    Re:

    I think he's one of those dudes that sings sappy songs that end up being featured in emo scenes of shows like Smallville or Scrubs or something.

     

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

  45.  
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    Get off my cyber-lawn! (profile), Nov 8th, 2012 @ 1:54pm

    Re: Copyrighted English Dictionary

    But, I pause to let you know this, I had the same idea without ever seeing YOUR plan. Therefore I'm covered under "independent inventor" and plan to "lease" my language to anyone whom wants to use it for a mere $40/month and .03 per additional word over 10k.

    I would advice you to file a lawsuit, but to do so you would have to use MY language and as such would be in effect violating the law by submitting the filing and since the govt can't enable you to do so you can't sue me.

    I'll sit here & wait for your settlement offer. have a nice day.

     

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

  46.  
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    Get off my cyber-lawn! (profile), Nov 8th, 2012 @ 2:09pm

    Re: Publicity

    ever

     

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

  47.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 9th, 2012 @ 3:37am

    The Bellamy Brothers: "If I said you had a beautiful body, would you hold it against me?"

    Britney Spears: "If I said I want your body now, would you hold it against me?"

     

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


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