Sultry singer Lana del Rey is accused of copying the Radiohead hit ‘Creep’ and has been hit with a demand of up to 100% of royalties for the song ‘Get Free’ which winds up her new album.
But making sense of the copyright dispute is confusing the artists’ record labels and lawyers.
For Radiohead themselves lost a law suit from 1970’s chart toppers The Hollies, who argued Creep plagiarised their song ‘The Air That I Breathe’.
As a result, the writers, Albert Hammond and Mike Hazelwood picked up a hefty royalty cheque and were credited as co-writers on the Radiohead song.
Who gets the money?
A Radiohead spokesman says that ‘Get Free undoubtedly uses elements of Creep’ without specifying which ones.
But the mystery is if Lana del Rey is copying someone, who is it and who has the right to the money?
Experts say the dispute comes down to who wrote the melody for each song – and so far, it seems Hammond and Hazelwood are the most likely winners of this argument.
Even though Hazelwood died in 2001, Hammond and the Hazelwood estate would stand to gain a split of the Lana del Ray royalties if she loses the dispute with Radiohead and their publishers.
Other music copyright disputes
But this does not matter in copyright law after another famous infringement case between George Harrison’s ‘My Sweet Lord’ and The Chiffons ‘He’s So Fine’.
Harrison was found guilty of “subconsciously” stealing from the song although he claimed he had not heard it at the time of writing My Sweet Lord.
Another example is Bond theme singer Sam Smith agreeing to share royalties and song writing credit with Tom Petty on ‘Stay With Me’ when it appeared that song stole from ‘Won’t Back Down’, despite Smith claiming it wasn’t an influence.
In another celebrated copyright case, The Verve must hand over all the money they make from rock classic ‘Bittersweet Symphony’ after the Rolling Stones clamed the song lent to heavily on their work ‘The Last Time’.