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.”