Music Industry

Published on January 9th, 2018 | by Alan Cross

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Sorting Out the Radiohead vs. Lana Del Rey Plagiarism Lawsuit

By now you’ve probably heard about the behind-the-scenes machinations about a possible plagiarism lawsuit that featuring Radiohead going after Lana Del Rey. They say that her song, “Get Free” sounds a little too much like “Creep.” (Read about it here.)

Reader and sometime contributor Danny Fournier points us to this post by One Bad Son drummer Kurt Dahl, who has a day job as a lawyer. There’s an interesting point in the case: Radiohead has already been sued for plagiarism over “Creep”–and they lost!

Let’s get Kurt to sort things out for us.

Your newsfeeds might be buzzing with the news that Radiohead are suing Lana Del Rey over her song “Get Free,” which they say plagiarizes their 1993 hit “Creep.”

Lana Del Ray tweeted yesterday: “It’s true about the lawsuit. Although I know my song wasn’t inspired by “Creep,” Radiohead feel it was and want 100% of the publishing – I offered up to 40 over the last few months but they will only accept 100. Their lawyers have been relentless, so we will deal with it in court.”

Now, here’s where the plot thickens: what some news outlets are missing is that Radiohead was previously sued for plagiarism. The song they were sued over? “Creep.” The song shares a similar chord progression and melody to the song “The Air That I Breathe,” written by Albert Hammond and Mike Hazlewood and initially released on Hammond’s 1972 album It Never Rains in Southern California. The song became a major hit for The Hollies in 1974.

Hammond and Hazlewood sued Radiohead for plagiarism and won. Radiohead claimed that the similarities were unintentional and subconscious, but agreed to give a percentage of the songwriting royalties and songwriting credit to Hammond and Hazlewood. According to Hammond, “Radiohead agreed that they had actually taken it … Because they were honest they weren’t sued to the point of saying ‘we want the whole thing’. So we ended up just getting a little piece of it.”

So: Radiohead is suing Lana Del Ray for plagiarism over a song that they actually plagiarized. The irony is strong with this one! This is the kind of case that gets entertainment lawyers (and music fans) very excited.
Keep reading.

 




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About the Author

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.


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