In the 1970s, George Harrison’s songÂ My Sweet Lord wasÂ found to be a rip-off ofÂ a Chiffon’sÂ tune called He’s So Fine. In that case (Bright Tunes Music v. Harrisongs Music),Â the courtÂ decided thatÂ Harrison “unintentionally copied” the earlier song,Â andÂ ordered him toÂ relinquish royalties.
This type of supposed plagiarism has occurred many times in popular music over the years. The latest case involves the British band Coldplay and rock guitarÂ mainstay, Joe Satriani. Some say Coldplay’s most successful single to date,Â Viva La Vida, is a rip-off of Satriani’s earlier work,Â If I Could Fly.
The songs do seem to have the same melody and the same chord progression, but what do your critical thinking skills tell you in cases like this?
Is this plagiarism? Are the songs totally different? If they’re the same, is it unintentional? Is it a tribute? Is it coincidence? How do these types of similarities affect your consumption of music?
The Afternoon Inquisition (or AI) is a question posed to you, the Skepchick community. Look for it to appear daily at 3pm ET.