Music That Strikes The Wrong Note For Composers

After decades of rock and pop music released by thousands of artists, how much of what you are listening to now is original?

The odds are not a lot and a look at some high profile cases for blatant copying support the view.

The latest court battle is a $20 million claim filed in Los Angeles for songwriters Martin Harrington and Thomas Leonard that Grammy winner Ed Sheeran copied the tune of a song by X Factor winner Matt Cardle note for note.

Lawyers argue that 39 notes in the chorus of Cardle’s Amazing match the style, melody and rhythm of Sheeran’s song Photograph.

By coincidence, the same legal team is going to court in LA next week to argue that Led Zeppelin’s legendary Stairway To Heaven is a copy of the Spirit song Taurus.

Rod Stewart admits plagiarism

Zeppelin toured with Spirit in the 1960s, when the original was written.

At stake is a share of the $400 million in royalties and sales Stairway To Heaven has amassed since release in 1971.

Led Zeppelin are far from the only big name to fight copyright infringement cases in the courts.

Rod Stewart made a hefty donation to charity UNICEF after admitting copying Brazilian Jorge Ben’s track Taj Mahal when writing his huge hit Do Ya Think I’m Sexy.

Stewart confessed the similarity as soon as he was challenged, explaining the plagiarism was unconscious but plagiarism all the same.

Troubled notes

Radiohead are one of the biggest bands in the world, but were taken to task over the likeness between their breakthrough hit Creep and US songwriter Albert Hammond’s Air That I Breathe, which was covered in the UK by The Hollies in 1974.

Hammond and his co-writer Mike Hazelwood have a writers’ credit and share the money the track makes with Radiohead.

Bittersweet Symphony by the Verve was challenged by the Rolling Stones as plagiarism even though permission had been given to the group to sample the Stones’ song The Last Time.

Despite the licence, the tones complained too much of the song was sampled and are credited as composers – and gained more than a 50% split of the royalties.