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More musical plagiarism insanity: Lady Gaga threatened with legal action over three notes.

You’ve heard of patent trolls. They’re bottom-feeding lawyers who look buy up intellectual property just so they can sue people and companies they say are stealing their patents and inventions. They produce nothing. For them, it’s all about generating money through shakedowns and lawsuits.

We’ve now entered the era of the musical copyright troll. These people–artists and their enabling lawyers–look for ways to sue other artists, composers, publishers, and record labels for stealing their work. Emboldened by victories by plaintiffs in some major cases (“Blurred Lines” vs. “Let’s Get It On” and Katy Perry’s recent travails over “Dark Horse” with a Christain rapper), the plagiarism claims are spiraling out of control.

Here’s the latest. An unknown singer by the name of Steve Ronsen claims that Lady Gaga stole from his 2012 song “Almost” to create the Academy Award-winning song, “Shallow.”

Let’s compare starting with “Almost”–which, before this story broke, had less than 300 listens on SoundCloud.

Now here’s the Gaga hit.

At the heart of this threat is a progression of three notes–THREE NOTES!–G, A, B–the same three-note progression we hear in this song from 1978.

To put it another way, Ronsen is claiming ownership over those three notes performed in that way for all the universe. This is even dumber than the recent Katy Perry case which involved a progression of four notes (and they weren’t even the same four notes).

Seriously, dude? How can you claim such a thing with a straight face? Meanwhile, Gaga has to lawyer up to fight a completely unnecessary battle.

And you know why this is happening, right? Streaming. As it becomes easier and easier to access all the music of human history, people are going to stumble across obscurities that will make them go “Wait a minute. That sound like [insert song here]. What a ripoff!

Read more here.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ 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.

Alan Cross has 38536 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

3 thoughts on “More musical plagiarism insanity: Lady Gaga threatened with legal action over three notes.

  • I clicked on the Ronsen song without scrolling down. As soon as it started playing I thought it was a cover of ‘Dust in the Wind’. Then I scrolled down to see….

    BTW, “scrolled down to see” in my last sentence along with the four periods, copyrighted.

    • Glad you pointed out you used 4 periods…I use three and that I have copyrighted.

  • The tech behind tools like Shazam that essentially make a digital fingerprint of a song make it a lot easier to find these “similarities”.

    But this is stupid. If I were Kansas,I would sue Ronson into oblivion.


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