Nothing really comes from scratch anymore, and music is no exception. The first thing bands talk about when they form are their influences, and they typically start off by (and never really stop) playing other people’s music. Entire genres, like folk, blues, and hip-hop, are based upon liberal borrowing out of either tradition or necessity. Simply put, every artist you love, no matter how unique, innovative, and game changing they may be, stands on the proverbial shoulders of giants.

  1. Ed Sheeran’s widely acclaimed song, “Photograph” is apparently very similar to another song called “Amazing” — and it may cost him $20 million. Songwriters Martin Harrington and Thomas Leonard wrote the song “Amazing” in 2009, and it apparently shares much of the same structure as Sheeran’s 2015 release of “Photograph.” The writers compared the chords of the two songs and supposedly identified 39 notes that are identical, according to documents shared with Reuters. The similarities in the chorus are instantly recognizable, claim Harrington and Leonard.
  2. Richard Busch, Harrington and Leonard’s lawyer, is well-known for his 2015 settlement of $7.4 million (later $5.3 million) in favor of the heirs of Marvin Gaye. Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke’s song “Blurred Lines,” was proven to illegally copy Gaye’s song “Got to Give It Up.” It was one of the biggest music infringement cases to date.
  3. Other recent cases include a lawsuit against Led Zeppelin for their song “Stairway to Heaven,” which potentially infringes on the group Sprit’s song “Taurus” which was released in 1968.
  4. Another song that went under fire was the “Ghostbusters” theme song written by Ray Parker Junior. Singer and songwriter Huey Lewis sued Parker for plagiarism of the song, “I Want a New Drug.” The settlement was dealt with outside of the court and the two created a confidentiality agreement that Lewis later broke in 2001 on his “Behind the Music” special, according to MTV. The results of that lawsuit were kept private.
  5. Legendary Johnny Cash was not left out of this ring of fire either as he was sued for using lyrics or melody from a Gordon Jenkins song “Crescent City Blues” for his own track “Folsom Prison Blues.” Cash was required to pay Jenkins $75,000 for the similarity in lyrics, according to Fuse.
  6. And in one of the oldest and most famous cases of musicians sued for infringement, George Harrison was taken to court for his hit “My Sweet Lord,” as it sounded too similar to The Chiffons’ 1963 track, “He’s So Fine.” Bright Tunes Corp sued Harrison for plagiarism and he had to give back all of his earnings from the song and even sales from his album. He eventually bought the rights to “He’s So Fine.”

Keywords: Music Industry, songs, copyright, plagiarism