Sam Smith recently had to hand over a good chunk of his songwriting royalties for “Stay With Me” to Tom Petty as a court found the song too similar to Petty’s “Won’t Back Down”. Whether consciously or not, the melodies are very similar but this isn’t the first time this has happened. Here are some of the biggest musical-plagiarism lawsuits in history.
GEORGE HARRISON VS. THE CHIFFONS
“My Sweet Lord” is an amazing pop song but judges ruled it was too close to the Chiffon’s “He’s So Fine”.
RADIOHEAD VS. ALBERT HAMMOND
Radiohead’s breakout song “Creep” came a little too close Albert Hammond’s “The Air that I Breathe”. The band had to give Hammond a co-writing credit due to a similar chord progression. Can you hear the similarities?
THE FLAMING LIPS VS. CAT STEVENS
“Father and Son” by Stevens was a pretty big (and emotional!) song back in the 70s. It must have crept into Wayne Coyne’s young, impressionable mind as the Lips got sued and now pay 75% of the song’s royalties to Stevens.
COLDPLAY VS. JOE SATRIANI
It seems odd that Chris Martin and co. would rip-off a guitar-wank legend but it was enough for the courts. They ruled that “Viva La Vida” had significant similarities to Satriani’s “If I Could Fly”. The two settled on an undisclosed amount.
SAM SMITH VS. TOM PETTY