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These are the 10 most brazen cases of plagiarism in the history of music

These are the 10 most brazen cases of plagiarism in the history of music

Coldplay star Chris Martin has also been involved in a high-profile plagiarism case. Photo: Cornerstone

The senior vice president is accused of plagiarizing the tune of their new campaign song. This phrase strongly reminds us of the phrase “we are family”. SVP’s work has been banned on YouTube. It remains to be seen if the accusations are true, but there have been some plagiarisms in the history of music. We have listed the ten most famous cases.

Stefan Kunzli/Ch Media

George Harrison: My Sweet Lord (1970)

Surprisingly, after the dissolution of the Beatles, it was the quiet George Harrison who achieved the greatest success. His song “My Sweet Lord” from the album “All Things Must Pass” from 1970 became a hit and conquered the world charts. But it didn’t take long for girl group The Chiffons to sue for plagiarism. Harrison’s song was adapted from the band’s 1963 hit “He’s So Fine”. The process took years. Finally, the court recognized plagiarism. Harrison’s lawyers managed to obtain a statement of “unintentional plagiarism” and agreed to a settlement giving the authors $1.6 million.

Robin Thicke: Blurred Lines (2013)

American singer Robin Thicke’s song “Blurred Lines” with Pharrell and rapper T.I. became a huge hit in 2013. But Marvin Gaye’s family, as rights holders paying particular attention to the soul legend’s musical legacy, recognized parts of “Blurred Lines” as the song’s “Got to Give.” It Up,” which the late star once wrote. An exciting process ensued. The court recognized the plagiarism and ordered the plagiarism to pay $7 million in damages.

Vanilla Ice: Ice Ice Baby (1989)

Clear case! In his song “Ice Ice Baby”, American rapper Vanilla Ice unabashedly and with particular audacity used the signature bass lines from Queen and David Bowie’s “Under Pressure” (1981). Despite, or perhaps because of, the song passed through the roof and became the rapper’s biggest hit. But there was no conviction here either. An agreement was reached out of court.

Radiohead – Creep

British rock band Radiohead released their biggest hit in 1992 with the single “Creep”. When songwriter and music producer Albert Hammond heard the song, it strongly reminded him of his soft rock song “The Air I Breathe,” which he composed with Mike Hazlewood. The song also became a hit thanks to a 1974 cover version of The Hollies. Then Hazlewood and Hammond went to court and they were right. Since then, they have also been credited as co-authors of the song Radiohead. A sum of money was also paid, but the amount is unknown.

The Beatles: Come Together (1969)

Even the great Beatles weren’t immune from plagiarism lawsuits. “Come Together” was written by John Lennon and, as usual, is credited to the Lennon/McCartney copyright. A little later, he sued Chuck Berry on his neck. A duel of the titans ensued. In fact, the song is very reminiscent of “You Can’t Catch Me,” which Perry wrote in 1956. The song’s rights holder, Maurice Levy, took an unusual approach to set things right: Instead of compensation, he had to get the rights to three more songs from Lennon. Lennon agreed.

Led Zeppelin: Whole Lotta Love (1969)

“Whole Lotta Love” appeared on Led Zeppelin II in 1969. Sixteen years later, blues musician Willie Dixon accused the British rock band of using “You Need Love,” which Dixon wrote for Muddy Waters in 1962. The similarity is truly striking. The operation came, but it did not last long. As is often the case in such cases, conviction was prevented by an out-of-court settlement.

Led Zeppelin has also faced other allegations of plagiarism. In 1997, Randy California of Spirit claimed that Led Zeppelin’s biggest hit, “Stairway To Heaven,” was inspired by a 1967 instrumental. However, the lawsuit was dismissed in 2016.

Coldplay: Viva la Vida (2008)

Three composers have claimed to be the authors of Coldplay’s song “Viva la Vida”: guitarist Joe Satriani, songwriter for Creaky Boards and Cat Stevens. In the end, Satriani got the contract. Coldplay and the guitarist settled out of court. His composition “If I Could Fly” from 2004 has the most melodic similarities to “Viva la Vida”.

Sam Smith – Stay With Me (2014)

British singer Sam Smith had his breakthrough in 2014 with the song “Stay with Me”. The song was very reminiscent of “I Won’t Back Down” from 1989, which Tom Petty wrote with songwriter Jeff Lynne (ELO). Sam Smith insisted he had never heard the song before, but admitted the similarity was striking. It was agreed that Petty and Lynne would later be listed as co-authors and receive one-eighth of the royalties.

DJ Bobo: Somebody Dance With Me (1984)

The case for “Somebody Dance With Me” is even more straightforward. DJ BoBo was inspired by Rockwell’s 1984 song “Somebody’s Watching Me”. The chorus, originally sung by Michael Jackson, has been transmitted practically unchanged. He made his breakthrough with the song, but the author was not given. DJ BoBo didn’t take it seriously. It was not until the summer of 1993 that the record company EMI, acting as the legal representative of the American singer Rockwell, learned of the song and filed a lawsuit. The accusation of plagiarism paid off and an out-of-court settlement was finally reached. Since then, Rockwell has been credited as a co-composer of the song.

Rumpelstilz: Newspapers and Magazines (1976)

The Hoover Polo has also been reputed to be inspired by American music. Even the first rock single “Warehuus Blues” suggested the author of Bob Dylan’s “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues” (1965). However, Polo Hofer is only presented as a composer. At first no one noticed and Dylan didn’t complain. Stilz’s biggest hit “Kiosk” from 1976 was attributed to Polo Hofer. But he had to be accused that the song was based on the song “Dixie Chicken” by the American band Little Feet. Here, too, no complaints were made. Rumpelstilz managed to put his own stamp on the song. (

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