Last winter guitarist Joe Satriani accused Coldplay of stealing portions of one of his songs for their hit “Vida La Vida”.Like post public claims of plagiarism, this one became a major music industry story.Even the most ardent Coldplay fan had to admit, when comparing the two songs, there was amazing similarity.
Now a new wrinkle has developed.
Legendary singer/songwriter Cat Stevens, now known as Yusaf Islam, has come forward suggesting that both songs are lifted from a section of his little-known and lengthy 1973 song “Foreigner Suite”.
Listening to the Cat Stevens song, and checking the calendar, it is clear that if anyone has a claim to the melody it is Stevens.The songs are remarkably similar!
The difference is that Cat Stevens has already stated that he has no plans to pursue legal action against either of them. Here’s what Cat Stevens told The Daily Express:
“They did copy my song, but I don’t think they did it on purpose. I have even copied myself without even knowing I have done it. I don’t want them to think that I am angry with them. I’d love to sit down and have a cup of tea with them and let them know it’s okay.”
Is that ever-so-sensible approach because Stevens, in his religious persona of Yusaf Islam, doesn’t have the desire for financial gain?
Or is it because he recognizes that over the course of nearly 40 years of pop music, these things can happen subconsciously?
Or is it that he wisely sees that the success of the Coldplay song only increases visibility for what was an obscure track from his own career?
In the digital age, great brands understand that sometimes stepping back and letting people reinterpret what you do makes a lot of sense.
Anime artists regularly use video and audio that is technically under copyright, and they create entirely new content.
Hip-hop musicians are notorious for lifting samples, sometimes quite lengthy ones, from old music to create entirely new content.
Some companies like Doritos have invited people to use their logo and brand to create home-made commercials.The viral impact was tremendous.
Countless extremely funny faux commercials on sites like You Tube lean heavily on established brands, including logos, jingles, and positioning statements. Amateur remakes of famous music videos have been downloaded millions of times and given new life to old forgotten songs.
Having your brand parodied, borrowed, or reinterpreted and distributed virally could very well be the best thing that ever happens to you.So before you call the lawyers when you see your logo on-line, step back and think about the potential good that could come of it.