Coldplay Denies Copying Satriani In Federal Court Filing
from the legal-guitarmageddon dept
If this really is a case of independent creation, it's troubling how difficult that would be to prove. In the comments of our original piece, several people noted the case of Bright Tunes v. Harrisongs in which a judge ruled that George Harrison had infringed another song through "unconscious copying" -- not intentionally, but by accidentally using a melody he'd heard elsewhere and had stored in his unconscious memory. The problem with "unconscious copying" and unintentional copyright infringement of a melody is that it undermines the independent creation defense and creates a pretty broad scope for what could be construed as copyright infringement in songwriting. Basically, any melody that sounds significantly similar to another might be considered "copied," even though that happens all the time in music. Plus, it's not like a similar sounding melody in a completely different song is harmful to the "original;" it's not like people are listening to Coldplay's song instead of Satriani's, or that one tune is impacting the commercial potential of the other. There is no functional equivalency in art.
The Harrison case is well-entrenched, but if Coldplay is intent on clearing its name, the case may offer the courts a chance to rethink the decision (or to re-affirm it...). Though, so far Coldplay's lawyers seem to be using a de minimis copying defense, arguing that any similarities are insignificant, rather than focusing on independent creation. At any rate, this could be a precedent-setting case... but don't hold your breath. In the end, it may well just be easier for Coldplay to pay up, settle and make it go away.