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Satriani Accuses Coldplay of Plagiarism


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Guitarist files plagiarism lawsuit against Coldplay

AP LOS ANGELES (AFP) – An American rock guitarist has filed a lawsuit against Coldplay, accusing the popular British band of plagiarising one of his songs on their latest hit album, according to court documents published on Thursday.

Joe Satriani, known for his instrumental compositions, alleges Coldplay's song "Viva la Vida" had "copied and incorporated substantial original portions" from his own track "If I Could Fly" recorded on an album released in 2004.

Satriani's lawsuit demands damages and "any and all profits" related to the alleged copyright infringement.

A representative for the band was not immediately available for comment.

Coldplay's latest album "Viva la vida," released in June, has topped the charts in Europe and the United States. The recording helped Coldplay win seven nominations for the 2009 Grammy awards

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Well I could care less about both Coldplay and Satriani, but I'll weigh in on this one.

First off, on that video the poster writes that the 'chord progression is the same'

well that's the first problem with the argument, as chord progressions are un-copyright-able, and it is a common practice (especially in jazz) for someone to take someone's chord progression and just write something new on top.

Now, the melody

so, they match up on the words 'Rule the world'

Coldplay's pickup notes 'If I could' don't fit in with the satriani at all, and then Satriani and Coldplay share common notes here and there, but not in succession.

So, we have three notes in sequence

First off, I'm pretty sure that standard melody copyright tradition holds that a melody needs to follow 5 or 6 notes exactly, but I'm not sure.

But I am 97% sure that it is more than 3.

Seriously, it's just three notes. I bet that if I went thru my collection I could find a buttload of songs that use those three notes, so Satriani better back off before he finds himself in a heaping steaming pile of irony.

If he honestly believes that this is plaigerism and not coincidence, then my respect for Joe as a musician has plummeted even further, it just proves him to be a 'noodler' who just fiddles around in a cage position until he pops out a 'melody'

If this goes further we should look at some more nuanced stuff such as arrangement and timbre, in which there are clear differences between the two songs.

Now, that's me weighing in, but if this were to go in front of a judge... the chance of a ruling in Satriani's favor is high, as a judge is not a musicologist, but a judge, and since the question of a matter of the three notes near the beginning (take notice that Coldplay has two tones preceding the tones in question.......) he could make the mistake of calling the song a breach of copyright.

This would set a dangerous precedent for musicians and composers, because if we're not allowed to occaisionally have three tones the same as another song... then we're gonna run out of stuff to write quite fast.

(I'm not saying that we should just go around grabbing three notes on purpose, but on occasion, that's gonna happen.)

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  • 2 months later...

British rockers COLDPLAY have made peace with lawyers for JOE SATRIANI over a copyright suit - meaning they can enjoy the upcoming Grammy Awards without fear of a legal stand off at the ceremony. Satriani filed suit in a U.S. federal court in December (08) alleging the Yellow hitmakers copied segments from his 2004 instrumental If I Could Fly to use in their 2008 hit track Viva La Vida.

The guitarist subsequently hired a team of detectives to hand-deliver the band a plagiarism lawsuit - picking the 8 February (09) prizegiving in Los Angeles, where Coldplay are to perform, as the perfect time to corner the band.

But now a lawyer for the musician has announced the matter has now been resolved, with Coldplay hiring a new legal team in America to fight the case.

Satriani's attorney, Howard King, says, "All of that has been averted now. Coldplay have hired one of the finest entertainment firms in California, which is probably good for all. We tried to have a conversation with Coldplay. Their British lawyers said there wasn't anything to discuss. And then after we filed the lawsuit, they didn't agree to accept service of the complaint."

And King admits Satriani is secretly pleased that the track in question has been nominated in the Record Of The Year category: "We hope Joe Satriani's song wins a Grammy. In fact, we hope Joe has a very big Grammy night!"

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