Singer, Lana Del Rey recently confirmed rumours of Radiohead suing her on the claim that her song ‘Get Free’ bore remarkable similarities to the latter’s smash hit, ‘Creep’. Although news of the altercation only broke out a few days ago, turns out that the struggle between the musicians has been brewing for a few months now.
When history repeats itself
Oddly enough, Radiohead was sued in the past over ‘Creep’, by the writers of ‘The Air That I Breathe’ – a song performed by The Hollies and written by Albert Hammond and Mike Hazlewood. An out-of-court settlement on the issue resulted in Radiohead having to share both writing credits and royalties over the song.
What are the possible outcomes of all this?
Lana Del Rey is the most recent, in a line of musicians being sued over copyright infringement, or what might arguably be considered, inspiration. The singer’s usage of the word ‘inspired’ in her tweet regarding the matter, could be a nod in the direction of lawsuits that have been rather unforgiving to any musical creativity that has been inspired by the music of others – something that was most notably at the centre of the Blurred Lines case, with Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams having lost to the estate of the late Marvin Gaye. The case has definitely blurred the lines for a lot of creative professionals and the court filing made by Robin Thicke and Pharell Williams, even pointed at the restrictions such disputes would impose on creativity.
“By eliminating any meaningful standard for drawing the line between permissible inspiration and unlawful copying, the judgment is certain to stifle creativity and impede the creative process,”
Back in 1976, George Harrison was successfully sued by Ronald Mack, who wrote the song ‘He’s So Fine’ for The Chiffons, owing to the similarities it bore with George Harrison’s, ‘My Sweet Lord’. Incidentally, the court ruled that George Harrison was guilty of unconscious copying.
Undoubtedly, this case between Radiohead and Lana Del Ray has all the ingredients for becoming another decision that is going to redefine the lines of musical creativity and originality. What might be additionally interesting, is to look out for whether Radiohead’s previous dispute with The Hollies is going to somehow affect their current beef with Lana Del Rey. Looks like some summer time sadness is headed these musicians’ way.