Ever since the plaintiffs in the Marvin Gaye’s “Got to Give It Up” successfully argued that Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” infringed on the song’s feel and vibe, I’ve been extremely worried about how copyright trolls are now looking for anyone to sue.
Some examples include
- Lady Gaga vs. Steve Ronzen
- Led Zeppelin vs. Spirit
- Katy Perry vs. Flame
- Bruno Mars and Mark Ronson vs. Roger Troutman
- Drake vs. Sam Scully
If you’re the writer of a hit song, you’re now a target for someone who says that you somehow infringed on something they wrote years ago. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never heard of the song or the songwriter/performer in question. You are now guilty until proven innocent–something that’s becoming harder and harder.
Ed Sheeran has been here, too. He’s currently defending himself against lifting elements of Marvin Gaye’s 1973 song “Let’s Get It On” for his hit, “Thinking Out Loud.” Sheeran has already paid $20 million to settle a suit over his song “Photograph.”
Now he has a new headache. Someone named Sam Chokri is going after Sheeran for allegedly stealing the chorus of “Shape of You”–one of the most-streamed songs of all time and a #1 hit in 34 countries–from Chokri’s 2015 song entitled “Oh Why.”
Never heard of Sam Chokri and his song? Get in line.
It gets better, too. Chokri says Sheeran “consciously or subconsciously in the habit of appropriating the compositional skill and labour of other songwriters’.” He goes on to claim that Ed’s catalogue contains “stolen” material from everyone from TLC and Shaggy to country singer Jasmine Rae.
Until this case is resolved, all royalty payments from “Shape of You” have been frozen, cutting Ed off from a big stream of revenue. Sheeran has filed a counter-suit, claiming that Chokri has engaged in slander and libel.
I’m not a Sheeran fan, but this seems to be yet another attempt to extort money out of a successful artist. The legal chill is growing, too. Anyone with a hit song is now vulnerable to someone coming out of the woodwork claiming theft, infringement, and plagiarism just because melodies might sound similar.
Fer crissakes, similarity doesn’t prove theft. There are only so many notes and melodies to go around.
This podcast at Digital Music News outlines out stupid things have become. Nothing less than the future of musical creativity is at stake here.