Beach Boys Make Ridiculous Copyright Claim Over Katy Perry's California Gurls

from the let-me-explain-idea-expression... dept

AdamR was the first of a bunch of you to send in the news that the Beach Boys are threatening to sue Katy Perry and/or her label if they’re not given songwriting credits for her song California Gurls. The Beach Boys, of course, did have a famous song back in 1965, called California Girls, with the classic line “I wish they all could be California Girls…” In the Katy Perry song, which is very different than the Beach Boys song, at the very, very, very end, Snoop Dogg says “I really wish you all could be California girls,” so the quote isn’t even a direct one. I would have embedded the video here for you all to see, but Perry’s label is EMI, and EMI is still doesn’t understand why embedding videos is a good idea.

Either way, the demands for a songwriting credit are ridiculous. Hopefully EMI and Perry stand up to Mike Love and Brian Wilson over this (amusingly, we were just covering how Love and Wilson were involved in a totally frivolous lawsuit between each other), though I could see EMI giving in so as not to open up the copyright can of worms over lyrics quotations and fair use. The use of the (modified) line here seems like a clear, undeniable case of fair use. It’s laughable to think that Love/Wilson deserve writing credits for a throwaway statement at the very end of a totally different song that, in some ways, is just an homage to their song.

Also complicating things? It looks like Love and Wilson have been quoted in the past saying they like the song and are flattered by the homage. Wilson wished her well on the track:

“The melody is infectious, and I’m flattered that Snoop Dogg used our lyric on the tag. I wish them well with this cut.”

Love’s quote, however, is a little different, and at least hints that he was thinking about this earlier (though, apparently, he now denies that this was his idea to threaten EMI/Perry):

“Initially the subject matter was so unique — songs about surfing, great cars, being true to your school, California girls. And the subject matter is still in vogue — just ask Katy Perry…. I think the part she did is pretty cool. There are a lot of writers on it, and I think it’s probably a stroke of genius to have the king of canine cool, Mr. [Snoop] Dogg, do his thing. But I think her creative part, her musical part, is pretty hooky. I think it brings the Beach Boys’ 1965 classic to mind, that’s for sure.

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Comments on “Beach Boys Make Ridiculous Copyright Claim Over Katy Perry's California Gurls”

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BruceLD says:


I see the lawyers have finally convinced the record labels that they need to pursue this legal recourse. However, what the lawyers are doing is completely self-serving; they just know they’ll get paid by the corporation whether they win or lose.

In the end, the lawyers are always the winners. The corporations are too stupid to see that they are being ripped off by those that are supposed to protect their interests.

Once again, the corporation will lose end up having to pay their lawyers tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars only to achieve absolutely nothing except public shame.

Hephaestus (profile) says:

Re: Subject

“Once again, the corporation will lose end up having to pay their lawyers tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars only to achieve absolutely nothing except public shame.”

Lets hope they keep doing this. Its in the best interest of society for them to drain money from the labels and accelerate the failure of the IP maximalist.

Does anyone know what percentage of the record labels budget is for legal?? It would be really cool to add it to my model.

Bubba Gump (profile) says:

Re: Re:

let me clear this up:

Imagine a line:

Here I’ve marked the end of the line with the word “end”:

Here I’ve marked the very, very, very end of the line with X:


Joseph Durnal (user link) says:

If we are lucky

they’ll get an injunction and take the song of the air!!! 🙂 wait, that is just me tired of hearing it every 45 minutes. When I first heard it back in May or early June, I thought it was a cute tune, but it didn’t make me think of the Beach Boys song at all, in fact, it took this article for me to make any connection whatsoever.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: If we are lucky

One of the reasons why the mainstream recording industry is failing, IMHO – why buy the single when you hear it every damn place you in the first place?

I first noticed it in the mid 90s – I’d hear a song, think “that’s pretty good, I think I’ll buy it”. But, no, I have to wait 4-6+ weeks before they’re ready to release it. By that time, I’m sick of the damn thing and don’t want to buy it any more… So, I either don’t bother buying any more or just don’t buy anything I can hear for free through mainstream channels.

Just one of the many ways the industry’s been screwing itself over for the last couple of decades in the name of “profit”.

Anonymous Coward says:

Do some more research. Mike and Brian aren’t suing, they both claim to like the song, the publisher who owns the rights has made asked the writers of the new song to establish diminutive claim.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Do some more research. Mike and Brian aren’t suing

Didn’t say they were suing. Saying they threatened to sue. If that’s wrong, take it up with the NY Post who reported it.

I think the later statements to Billboard is Rondor backing down after the negative publicity. If the writers deny the diminutive claim, then what? You think they’ll just go away?

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I love the fact that your link no only claims that The Beach Boys are directly responsible twice in the damn URL, but doesn’t mention that it’s Rondor taking action rather than Wilson and Love until the next-to-last paragraph. I also like the fact that you ask Mike to “do some research”, but your link contradicts the one he’s referring to in the original post.

Misleading journalism FTW. Maybe you should start complaining to the people spreading the inaccurate rumours rather than the people commenting on them.

AdamR (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

“Reps for the Beach Boys are threatening to sue Katy Perry after she included their classic line “I wish they all could be California Girls,” in her song “California Gurls.”

I just copied and pasted from the actual article, please show me where it says the Beach Boys are directly suing? Also please show where Mike says the Beach Boys are personal suing?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“Reps for the Beach Boys are threatening to sue” sounds an aweful lot like it’s the Beach Boys making the threats. “Reps for” is kind of a reaningless phrase, because no one expects that Love or Wilson is going to personally pen the complain or speak directly to anyone about it — they have people to do that for them.

Walter Gross (profile) says:

EMI does provide embed code for their videos

No comment really on the lawsuit but I’d like to point out that if you go to you will find that there is a Brightcove video player right on the home page which offers shareable, embeddable video content. Here is the url to the video: I tried to include the embed code here as well but it keeps getting stripped out. You can grab it from the same BC player so you can revise your article.

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