After Kanye West released his mixtape, Don Henley of Eagles made it known he had a problem with the R&B star openly using the entirety of Hotel California without asking or informing him or the band. He went as far as calling him a “talentless little prick” and said that the artist clearly didn’t have a clear understanding of intellectual property. Since then, he’s been prodded into commenting on the “feud” in certain interviews while promoting his own new album, making further comments about his distaste for Ocean. With this case in mind, lets take a look at some of the more famous copyright battles in music.
Robin Thicke vs. Marvin Gaye
Not long after numerous accusations of unpleasant sexism in the Thicke hit “Blurred Lines” the children of Marvin Gaye began to pursue him and Pharell Williams for the similarities between it and their father’s song “Got To Give It Up.” If Thicke’s career wasn’t already burning into cinders, his admittance that Williams had been the one to create the music for the song rather than himself, despite his bragging in earlier interviews, left him in career ruin. Gaye’s family ended up receiving $7.4mn from the two singers.
The Verve vs. The Rolling Stones
This is a very famous case. After The Verve released their biggest hit Bittersweet Symphony in 1997, an old manager of The Rolling Stones pursued them for copyright infringement. The band had actually successfully received permission to use a snippet from one of the Stones’ songs but the manager claimed they’d used more than they’d agreed to. The Verve denied this, but ended up losing everything. Despite this, you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who sided against The Verve on this one, the song sounding nothing like the original that was sampled.
Vanilla Ice vs. David Bowie & Queen
In 1990, Vanilla Ice was taken to court for sampling “Under Pressure” without any former consent. With the rapper being found out dead to rights, the issue was settled out of court for an undisclosed, but presumably large, amount of money. David Bowie & Queen were also given royalties for the song since the issue was brought to attention.
Metallica vs. Napster Inc.
Quite possibly the most famous case on the list, Metallica pursued Napster Inc. after discovering a single they’d written for the second Mission Impossible film was being played on the radio before it had even been released. They traced the issue to Napster Inc. and went after them to the tune of $10mn. While Metallica were successful in the case, many would argue that the case drove the final nail into the coffin that was slowly encasing the band’s dropping popularity. To this day, this dispute is cited as a reason for having no respect in this band whatsoever.
What do you think about these cases? Should the supposed theft of intellectual property be based on every individual case or is it important we have hard and fast rules protecting the art of everyone? Let us know in the comments if you feel we missed a good one here or if you have your own opinion on the matter.