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Music Trivia -> Song Lawsuits -> Index

Songs that have resulted in lawsuits, either for lyrics or for borrowing too much of the music.

Other Pages: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z Misc.

Latest Entries

The 20 most recent entries are listed below. There are 77 entries in this section.

"Alone Again," Biz Markie
Not only had this song sampled the entirety of "Alone Again (Naturally)" by Gilbert O'Sullivan, but Gilbert had also denied Biz the right to sample it. The resulting lawsuit made it a requirement for artists to gain permission and also pay royalties to be able to sample one of their songs.
"Stairway To Heaven," Led Zeppelin
It has been alleged that Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin used the descending guitar-figure from "Taurus" for Led Zeppelin's signature song "Stairway to Heaven". Led Zeppelin had opened for Spirit in an early American tour, providing the possibility that Led Zeppelin had heard the Spirit song before "Stairway to Heaven" was written. In the liner notes to the 1996 reissue of Spirit's debut album, Randy California wrote: People always ask me why "Stairway to Heaven" sounds exactly like "Taurus", which was released two years earlier. I know Led Zeppelin also played "Fresh Garbage" in their live set. They opened up for us on their first American tour. Randy California, born Randy Wolfe, died in 1997. In 2014, the musician's estate filed a copyright infringement suit seeking a co-writing credit for California on "Stairway to Heaven." In April 2016, District Judge Gary Klausner ruled that there were sufficient similarities between the songs to call for Jimmy Page and Robert Plant, credited as co-writers of "Stairway to Heaven", to stand trial by jury for copyright infringement. The trial began on June 14, 2016. On June 15, 2016, Jimmy Page spent hours on the witness stand testifying. By law, the jury was not allowed to hear original recordings of the songs; instead, they heard an expert perform both songs in court using original sheet music. The trial concluded on June 23, 2016, with the jury, after one hour of deliberation, finding that Led Zeppelin was not guilty of copyright infringement, determining that while Plant and Page had access to "Taurus", the song's riff was not "intrinsically similar" to the opening of "Stairway to Heaven." The Wolfe estate filed an appeal, and in September 2018, a three judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco, California, citing a series of errors by the previous case's judge, threw out by a 3–0 ruling the 2016 district court's decision. According to the appeals court decision, the 2016 trial judge erred in failing to instruct jurors that the trustee could prevail if Wolfe had created a "sufficiently original combination" of "otherwise unprotectable music elements," and also in instructing jurors about the copyrighting of music elements in the public domain. In March 2020, the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals sitting en banc, voted 9 to 2 to let stand the 2016 jury verdict in favor of Led Zeppelin. In October 2020, the Supreme Court of the United States refused to hear the case, leaving the Ninth Circuit's decision in place and effectively ending the dispute. Taken From Wikipedia
Clever Name
"Amish Paradise," Weird Al Yankovic
A classic case of misunderstanding: Coolio's label gave Yankovic the impression that Coolio had granted permission to record the parody, but Coolio maintains that he never did. While Coolio claimed he was upset, legal action never materialized, and Coolio accepted royalty payments for the song. After this controversy, Yankovic has always made sure to speak directly with the artist of every song he parodied. At the XM Satellite Radio booth at the 2006 Consumer Electronics Show Yankovic and Coolio made peace. On his website, Yankovic wrote of this event, "I don't remember what we said to each other exactly, but it was all very friendly. I doubt I'll be invited to Coolio's next birthday party, but at least I can stop wearing that bulletproof vest to the mall." In an interview in 2014, Coolio extended his apology for refusing his permission, stating that at the time "I was being cocky and sh*t and being stupid and I was wrong and I should've embraced that sh*t and went with it", and that he considered Yankovic's parody "actually funny as sh*t." (from Wikipedia)
"In da Club," 50 Cent
Former 2 Live Crew manager Joseph Weinberger attempted to sue 50 Cent for the use of the line "it's your birthday", alleging that it was taken off the second track from 2 Live Crew member Luther Campbell's album Freak for Life. Unfortunately for Weinberger, who owned the rights to the rap group's back catalog, the judge ruled in favor of Curtis Jackson, whose use of the "birthday" line was glaringly common and ineligible for copyright.
Queen Elsa of Arendelle
"Let It Go," Idina Menzel
Jaime Ciero sued Disney, Idina Menzel, and Demi Lovato in 2017, alleging similarities between "Let It Go" and Ciero's 2008 song "Volar". Ciero backed out of the suit in 2019.
"The Queen and I," KLF
The majority of the song featured heavy usage of a "Dancing Queen" sample, which got them in trouble with ABBA's lawyers. As a result, they destroyed all unsold copies, an image of which is on the cover of their next album.
"Sorry," Justin Bieber
Indie artist White Hinterland accused Bieber and Skrillex of using her vocal loop from her 2014 song "Ring the Bell" without permission; Skrillex rebutted Hinterland's claims by uploading a video manipulating the vocals of co-writer Julia Michaels. The lawsuit was later dropped.
Maryellen Larkin
"Soft Kitty," Cast of 'The Big Bang Theory'
A lawsuit was filed by the estate of one Edith Newlin (her two daughters) in 2015 claiming that the show, The Big Bang Theory, CBS and Time Warner, Inc. used Mrs. Newlin's song "Warm Kitty" written in 1930, without their permission. The suit claims that the series changed the title of the song to "Soft Kitty" before putting it in illegally. A U.S. District Count dismissed the case, stating that the Newlin sisters failed to show proof of a copyright for the song.
Odie Garfield
"Sadeness," Enigma
Enigma was sued for unauthorized use of the Gregorian chant for Sadeness.
"Barbie Girl," Aqua
Mattel Toys LTD sued Aqua and their record label for soiling the Barbie brand's "wholesome" image. The judge threw the case out because the song was protected under free speech.
"Thinking Out Loud," Ed Sheeran
Ed Townsend's estate sued Sheeran for plagiarising elements off Marvin Gaye's "Let's Get It On". The melodies are indeed eerily similar (and it didn't help that Sheeran would occasionally mash up the two songs in his concerts either), but the courts initially dismissed it in 2016. Structured Asset Sales however brought out another lawsuit worth $100 million.
Maryellen Larkin
"band name," J. Band
The reunited J. Geils Band with Peter Wolf back as frontman, had scheduled several dates in many cities but were forced to cancel the tour due to a lawsuit by J. Geils himself. After all, how could these guys call themselves the "J. Geils Band" if guitarist Geils himself ain't in it? He's 70 years old and he's been on the road with another band but promoting himself and using his name "J. Geils" alone - no "Band".
Leader Of The Band
"Give Me Everything," Pitbull
Lindsey Lohan filed the lawsuit because Lohan thought the song mentioned her name. The song was protected by free speech and Pitbull won the lawsuit.
"Revolution," The Beatles
In 1987, "Revolution" became the first Beatles recording to be licensed for use in a television commercial. Nike paid $500,000 for the right to use the song for one year, split between recording owner Capitol-EMI and song publisher ATV Music Publishing (owned by Michael Jackson). Commercials using the song started airing in March 1987.

The three surviving Beatles, through their record company Apple, filed in July 1987 objecting to Nike's use of the song. The suit was aimed at Nike, its advertising agency Wieden+Kennedy, and Capitol-EMI Records. Capitol-EMI said the lawsuit was groundless because they had licensed the use of "Revolution" with the "active support and encouragement of Yoko Ono Lennon, a shareholder and director of Apple." Ono had expressed approval when the commercial was released, saying the commercial "is making John's music accessible to a new generation".

The "Revolution" lawsuit and others involving the Beatles and EMI were settled out of court in 1989, with the terms kept secret. The financial website included the Nike "Revolution" advertisement campaigh in its list of the 100 key business events of the 20th century, as it helped "commodify dissent". Source:
"Best I Ever Had," Drake
In a lawsuit filed June 24th, 2010, Playboy Enterprises sued Drake for copyright infringement by over alligations that his breakout smash "Best I Ever Had" sampled "Fallin' in Love" by Hamilton Joe, Frank & Reynolds, without attribution or permission.

The suit names Drake, as well as Cash Money Records and Universal Music Group, and asserts that Playboy "has suffered, and will continue to suffer irreparable injury" from the alleged infringement. The lawsuit demands that "all infringing works be recalled and destroyed."

As part of its claim, Playboy also alleges that "each defendant either knew, or should have reasonably known, that the sound recording was protected by copyright." Source:
"Various songs," Poison
In 2011, Poison were sued by a now-forgotten Glam Metal group called Kid Rocker who claimed Poison guitarist CC Deville had stolen their guitar riffs, specifically the songs "Cry Tough", Talk Dirty To Me", "Fallen Angel", and "Ride The Wind". CC had played with that band very briefly prior to joining Poison, but as far as I know, he kept his royalties...
"Only Want To Be With You ," Hootie And The Blowfish
A tribute to Bob Dylan - NOT!. A lyric line describes "on a little Dylan." The verse then references three songs on Bob Dylan's 1974 Blood on the Tracks album. The lyric "sittin' on a fence" quotes Dylan's "You're a Big Girl Now." The song then references and quotes extensively from the next song on the album, Dylan's "Idiot Wind". The song then mentions Dylan's "Tangled up in Blue."However, Dylan felt that the references to his lyrics infringed on his original work, and he was not impressed by it.. He slapped a lawsuit on these hosers for stealing lyrics from his songs, and ended up getting a big settlement. But then again, since does any of Hootie's music have an ounce of originality anyway? That stuff is bland and pedestrian. You'd get better poetry from reading the label on a can of peaches.
Hootie Pootie Poo Pah Pah!
"Running On Empty," Jackson Browne
In 2008 the US Presidential Elections were on, and for a change both the Democratic and Republican candidates - John McCain and Barack Obama - showed to be quite likable and were running their campaigns in a civilized, clean and occasionally humorous way. Whoever won the election was going to have to tackle the problems leftover from the Clinton and W administrations, as well as the rancid atmosphere of neglect and corruption. However, supporters of both candidates were spreading the most extremely ridiculous rumors and lies about their champion's opponent. Also, as usual the candidates at their rallies would often have popular songs piped in, and candidates of all parties in every election campaign have been guilty of this. Bruce Springsteen has sent C + D (Cease + Desist) letters to Republican AND Democratic candidates many many times directing them to stop using his music for political campaigning. 2008 was no exception. That year the McCain camp was getting noted for receiving many such notices, from artists and bands including Van Halen, Heart, Billy Joel, John Cougar Mellencamp and others. Jackson Browne slapped a lawsuit on McCain for using the phrase "Running On Empty" at a rally stop. Sending a C + D notice wasn't enough, no? Yeah yeah, we know that Jackson Browne is part of a musical crowd is "dyed-in-the-wool" Democratic Party no matter what, but come ON - isn't this a bit extreme measure to take?
Nonpartisan Indie Man
"The Old Man Down The Road," John Fogerty
The Fantasy Records label's tyrant, the evil Saul Zaentz, claimed (falsely!) that "The Old Man Down The Road," from John Fogerty's album "Centerfield," shared too much of its refrain with "Run Through The Jungle," one of Fogerty's selections as leader of Creedence Clearwater Revival, to which Zaentz had bullied Fogerty into forfeiting the copyright as a condition of releasing him from his label contract. Zaentz litigated against Fogerty, in a petition titled "Fantasy Incorporated V. Fogerty," but Fogerty won that case. Fogerty then cross-petitioned against Zaentz, seeking the costs of his successful defense against Fantasy Incorporated's original petition; in 1993, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned lower-court rulings, and Fogerty won outright.
Parker Gabriel
"Their Entire Song Library," Mark Holmes (Platinum Blonde)
I don't know the specific details but Sony/BMG branch was caught up in a payola scandal so Mark went after them for control of Platinum Blonde's music catalog.

Other Pages: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z Misc.

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