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My Sweet Lord vs. He's So Fine
12 March 2015
9.33pm
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trcanberra
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meanmistermustard said
I have a history of not particularly liking the main songs artists are known by for example 'Bohemian Rhapsody', 'Imagine ', 'Dancing Queen', 'Peggy Sue', 'Wonderwall', 'Oh, Pretty Woman ', whatever Coldplay are best known for.

I can sympathise, though I like some of the songs you listed. My dislike often, though not always, stems from too much airplay - I tend not to like "Hits" packages for this reason.

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12 March 2015
9.51pm
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Matt Busby
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Bongo said

meanmistermustard said
More copyright infringements. Pharrels Williams and Robin Thicke found guilty of breaching the copyright of Marvin Gaye's 'Got To Give It Up' and ordered to pay $7.3m. Recently Sam Smith was ordered to pay royalties to Tom Petty for similarities between 'Stay With Me' and 'I Won't Back Down'.

Reminds me of the Led Zeppelin songs! Man, did they outright steal some good old blues!
YouTube: Jake Holmes - Dazed And Confused and explain to me how he didn't get any credit for this song!a-hard-days-night-george-4

And other songs...contrast to the Stones properly (?) crediting Robert Johnson with their nearly identical copy of Love in Vain.  However, and I think this is relevant to the copyright infringement discussion.  This from the song's wiki entry:

"Johnson was an admirer of blues singer/pianist Leroy Carr. "Love in Vain" takes its musical structure from Carr's classic "In the Evenin' When the Sun Goes Down" [and it's quite obvious that both lyrics and melody are taken from Carr's song]. Both songs express a yearning and sorrow for the loss of a lover. The Shreveport Home Wreckers (a duo of Oscar "Buddy" Woods and Ed Schaffer), recorded their track "Flying Crow Blues" in 1932. Johnson used one set of its lyrics almost verbatim for the final verse of "Love in Vain."[4]

The point being, nobody sued Johnson for copying previous songs.  I suspect the original authors (Leroy Carr & the Shreveport Home Wreckers) were glad, maybe honored, to get the nod from Johnson.

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12 March 2015
10.07pm
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trcanberra
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And there is Question and Pinball Wizard.

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2 May 2015
9.20am
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Beatlebug
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I heard both songs back-to-back recently, and I was struck by how similar the verse melody was ('My sweet lord...' 'He's so fine...') and then the background 'doo-lang's sound like the F#m--Bmaj chord progression to me. So I'm not surprised that he got into hot water for it. His song is, of course, light-years better, but still... poor George. ahdn_george_07 

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2 May 2015
10.09am
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ewe2
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I know the litigation ended up well for George, he ended up with He's So Fine and all the money back, but I can't find the source I had for that, it was independent of what George said about it.

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3 May 2018
2.56am
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My question is broader than just this George controversy, but the latter is a good jumping-off point.

We all know that George got into some hot water during the 70s when his song "My Sweet Lord " began to be noticed to have resemblances to the Ronnie Mack song "He's So Fine".

My broader query is, say I wrote a song that markedly resembled a song by a famous musician... actually I have, two of them (at least): one song I wrote is a Christmas carol which borrows heavily from the melody of Herbie Mann's song "Panama Red's Panama Hat". Another is a song I wrote which I know was influenced in its melody and chord structure by James Taylor's song "That's Why I'm Here". So imagine my music career develops well enough to put out a first album, which would feature both of these songs.  Could I avoid any legal hassles by simply stating in the "liner notes" -- assuming that musicians still have those in our digitalized music scene -- that I was influenced by those songs and state in detail how?

Or would I have to contact the relevant lawyers representing those musicians (e.g., James Taylor's lawyers and the lawyers of the family of the now deceased Herbie Mann) and possibly pay them money before I put out my album?

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3 May 2018
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ewe2
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Off the top of my head, I know of two cases where the writer acknowledged the debt to another song and presumably their record company/publisher negotiated a satisfactory deal. Those are They Might Be Giants and The Guitar (The Lion Sleeps Tonight) (on Apollo 18), and, funnily enough, REM and The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonight (on Monster) ...yes the very same song. We know REM paid upfront for the rights in their case, and apparently TMBG's record company added the title in parenthesis. Now as far as I know TMBG do their own publishing, and it may be that they were able to do a rights deal through ASCAP, which is the American general royalty collection organization, it differs in different countries but they all cooperate over international markets. If I were to do a similar thing, I'd be contacting my local rights organization to do a deal and make the appropriate genuflection on the album notes. I wouldn't go into any detail about how and why a song owes the debt, just as long as the original song and writers are publicly credited, and they get an appropriate share of the composer royalties.

I would urge anyone who intends to release anything to have signed up to a royalty collection society even if you don't have a publisher or want to publish yourself, because they have the muscle and expertise to assist you in other markets than your own and have good links to publishers of other music. It's practically a necessity since bandcamp and distrokid came along, they will need to be notified too because you sign away some of your rights to be distributed by them (I think that's on the mechanical royalties side, like a record company, different to composer royalties), and "ripping off" a song infringes those rights too.

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5 May 2018
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Thanks ewe2; so both of those cases involved paying money. I was thinking that by the musician acknowledging his inspiration, he could avoid that (wishful thinking).

Another case was Santana's song "Everybody's Everything" (from their 1971 untitled third album).  Carlos Santana modeled it after a 1967 soul song "Karate" by a band called The Emperors. I haven't found definitive proof that Carlos did it the legit way or got into trouble for it.  Later, Carlos did it again, on his 1973 album Welcome, the song "Mother Africa" initially came out as written by Santana keyboardist Tom Coster and Carlos Santana. Word is, Herbie Mann heard about this and personally called Santana wondering who Tom Coster was and why he was taking credit for a Herbie Mann song. Later issues of the album feature Herbie Mann's name first.

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A ginger sling with a pineapple heart,

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