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Radiohead versus Lana Del Rey

Did she or didn’t she?

On January 7, Lana Del Rey confirmed on Twitter that Radiohead has sued her for copyright infringement because of the similarities between her song “Get Free” (released in 2017) and Radiohead’s “Creep” (released in 1993).

She tweeted, “Although I know my song wasn’t inspired by Creep, Radiohead feel it was and want 100% of the publishing — I offered up to 40 over the last few months but they will only accept 100. Their lawyers have been relentless, so we will deal with it in court.”

At issue are similarities between the chord progressions in both songs (although the lyrical content is not a matter of dispute):

According to attorneys quoted in a Variety article, Radiohead has the upper hand in the argument for two reasons:

But anything can happen when music copyright cases are decided by a jury of everyday people, especially when the dispute occurs over something as subjective as the way a song sounds as opposed to the lyrics used. Case in point: Led Zeppelin. Throughout Led Zeppelin’s storied history, the band has occasionally needed to pay up for copyright infringement due to lyrical content. But when Led Zeppelin famously faced a copyright lawsuit based on the musical similarities between “Stairway to Heaven” and the song “Taurus,” Led Zeppelin prevailed.

With the “Stairway to Heaven” lawsuit, it didn’t matter how similar the songs sounded to attorneys and musicologists although attorneys and musicologists certainly shared their opinions in court. What mattered was what a jury of eight people thought. Commenting on the Led Zeppelin case at the time, blogger Bob Lefsetz wrote, “That’s what it’s come down to, eight nobodies weighing in on the provenance of rock and roll.”

If the Radiohead/Lana Del Rey goes to trial, once again the decision will come down to a jury. And Lana Del Rey could beat Radiohead despite the obvious similarities between “Creep” and “Get Free.” Her argument will likely rely on two crucial factors:

And then there is the X factor. If the musicians actually appear in court to testify about the writing of their songs, how will they come across? Will either side charm the juries or alienate them? If I had to bet on which side will lay on more charm, I’d place all my money on Lana Del Rey as opposed to the enigmatic members of Radiohead.

Ultimately, if the case continues to court, a jury of everyday people like you and me will decide. And anything goes.

Written by

Writer and pop culture lover.

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