Copyright is a very controversial concept that we encounter frequently, especially in works of art. For this reason, there are frequent discussions about copyright and plagiarism in the music world. Disputes over a word or note in a song can often be resolved in court cases. Moreover, sometimes even world-famous musicians can be parties to these lawsuits! Here are 7 of the most famous music cases in recent history that caused a sensation in the music industry.
1. Ed Sheeran and Sami Chokri
Ed Sheeran released his song “Shape of You”, which became a “hit” all over the world in 2017. In a short time, the popular song was listened to billions of times. After the song was released, another musician named Sami Chokri filed a plagiarism lawsuit against Sheeran! According to Chokri’s claim, the words “Oh I” in her 2015 song “Oh Why” were stolen by Sheeran! Claiming that Sheeran used these words in the song “Shape of You”, Chokri accused the singer of stealing… Thus, the plagiarism debate that started between the two musicians was brought to court…
Musicologists commissioned by the court made meticulous examinations of both songs. They carefully searched for similarities between the songs. But they could not decide which musician was right. On top of that, the judge of the case ruled that Sheeran deliberately did not use the relevant parts of the song “Oh Why”. So Sheeran won the case…
2. Sam Smith and Tom Petty
British singer Sam Smith released a song called “Stay With Me” in 2015. The chorus of the song caused a stir in the music industry because of its similarity to Tom Petty’s song “I Won’t Back Down”. Because the song “I Won’t Back Down”, released in 1989, was one of Petty’s most important and well-known songs.
The argument between the two musicians did not go to court. The musicians reconciled without going to court. Smith said in a statement that he had never heard the song “I Won’t Back Down” before. He admitted, however, that there were “coincidentally” similarities between the two songs. Sam Smith then paid Tom Petty a royalty fee for the song “Stay With Me”.
3. Radiohead and Lana Del Rey
published in 1992 “Creep” is one of the most popular songs of the famous music group Radiohead. It is also one of the group’s most “controversial” songs.
In 2018, US singer Lana Del Rey announced that Radiohead was suing her. The subject, of course, was the song “Creep”. Radiohead claimed that part of the song “Creep” was used without permission in Rey’s song “Get Free”. This music lawsuit, which took place in the recent past, was also closed with the settlement of the parties out of court.
However, this was not the first “incident” of “Creep”. The group “The Hollies” claimed that part of the song “The Air That I Breathe”, which they released in 1972, was used in the song “Creep”. Thus, Albert Hammond and Mike Hazelwood from The Hollies were co-wrote the song “Creep”…
US music publisher Moris Levy filed a copyright lawsuit against the Beatles in 1969. Allegedly, a quote from Chuck Berry’s song “You Can’t Catch Me” was used in the Beatles’ song “Come Together”. “Come Together” was defended in court by John Lennon.
Another case that gave the Beatles a “headache” took place in 1970. The song “My Sweet Lord” by Beatleas guitarist George Harrison was quite similar to the song “He’s So Fine” by “The Chiffons”! The lawsuit was settled in 1976. Court ruled that Harrison “quoted” from the song “He’s So Fine”…
5. $5 million “Blurred Lines”
The song, released in 2012 by Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams, marked the days of its release! However, this situation could not prevent the song from being “court”…
A copyright lawsuit has been filed against Thicke and Williams by the family of American soul singer Marvin Gaye. The family claimed there were “significant” similarities between Gaye’s 1977 song “Got to Give It Up” and “Blurred Lines”. The case was settled in favor of Gaye’s family. The court sentenced Thicke and Williams to pay $5 million in damages!
6. Queen, David Bowie and Vanilla Ice
Queen group and David Bowie, which are among the most important names of world music, had to deal with copyright issues. The “similar” melody in the Queen and Bowie co-produced song “Under Pressure” was used in the song “Ice Ice Baby” by US singer “Vanilla Ice”! On this “likeness”, Vanilla Ice paid compensation to Quen and Bowie. However, the amount of compensation was not disclosed.
7. Led Zeppelin – Stairway to Heaven
Led Zepppelin’s 1971 piece “Stairway to Heaven” is one of the most important and most loved songs in the music world. However, this famous and beloved song could not escape being the subject of copyright disputes. Thus, this iconic song took its place among the most famous lawsuits in the music industry…
“Stairway to Heaven” was accused of being “significantly” inspired by a 1968 instrumental song by US band Spirit. However, “Led Zeppelin” won the lawsuit that started in 2016 and ended in 2020.