What a rip-off!
A mere thin line exists between plagiarism and inspiration, and straddling it recklessly has landed some pretty big names in court. The latest case of musical infringement arrives 28 years after the hit took over the charts: Guns ‘N’ Roses’ popular 1987 song, “Sweet Child O’ Mine,” is accused of copying little known Australian Crawl’s 1981 track, “Unpublished Critics.” The band’s frontman, James Reyne, has known of the obvious parallels all along. “I have been made aware by people in the past,” he told Triple M, an Australian music website. “Our song certainly came before them, I don’t know quite what to say.”
Guns ‘N’ Roses vs. Australian Crawl
Have a look at 8 more instances of theft from the tune to the tempo.
Sam Smith vs. Tom Petty
Sam Smith’s talent can’t be denied, but neither can the similarities from his meteoric 2014 hit “Stay With Me” when it’s put up against Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down,” released in 1989. After the melodies were synced together and uploaded to YouTube in 2014, the British Grammy winner had to offer The Heartbreakers’ lead a co-writing credit.
Lady Gaga vs. Madonna
Imitation might be the sincerest form of flattery, but Madonna’s fans were the least bit amused when Mother Monster emerged with “Born This Way” at the 2010 MTV Music Video Awards. The tune seemed to be completely inspired by Madge’s 1989 song “Express Yourself,” in both melody and message.
Robin Thicke vs. Marvin Gaye
If he could turn back the hands of time we’re sure Robin Thicke would do so in a heartbeat. The R&B crooner was ordered to cough up $7.3 million in damages (along with his collaborator Pharrell Williams for 2013’s “Blurred Lines”) to Marvin Gaye’s family estate, after blatantly ripping off the soul singer’s 1977 song, “Got to Give It Up.”
Ray Parker Jr. vs. Huey Lewis and The News
Who you gonna call? A lawyer! Ray Parker Jr., the man behind one of the catchiest movie tunes ever, was accused of taking more than a few liberties with the Huey Lewis song, “I Want a New Drug.” “Ghostbusters” soared to the top of the charts, and Lewis sued. The artists came to an agreement, settling out of court.
Coldplay vs. Joe Satriani
That’s just cold! Chris Martin and his band allegedly stole the melody for their song “Viva La Vida” in 2008. Joe Satriani sued, arguing portions of his song, “If I Could Fly,” were copied, but the case was dismissed in 2009.
Jennifer Lopez vs. Kat Deluna
This isn’t Jennifer Lopez’s first time at the copy Kate Deluna rodeo. However, her most undisputable offense was with her song “On the Floor” in 2011. The dance hit bore a striking resemblance to Deluna’s “Party O’ Clock,” released in 2010.
Queen and David Bowier vs. Vanilla Ice
Likely the most noteworthy case of music plagiarism is Vanilla Ice’s “Ice Ice Baby” vs. David Bowie and Queen’s “Under Pressure.” The ’90s rapper sampled the song sans permission, but luckily, the group did not file a lawsuit.
Katy Perry vs. Sara Bareilles
The similarities here are pretty evident. Katy Perry’s “Roar” is almost an exact copy of Sara Barielles’ 2013 song “Brave.” Bareilles had a rather positive reaction upon realizing her song was copied. “I mean, I can’t say that I think they don’t sound similar,” she said in a CBS Sunday Morning interview in 2014. “At the end of the day, it was really good for my song. Thank you, Katy Perry for that!”