Radiohead Vs. Prince In The World Series Of Copyright Law

Dan Gibson | May 30, 2008 2:00 am

By now, you’ve probably heard that Prince put his own spin on Radiohead’s “Creep” at Coachella last month. However, any recorded evidence of the cover has been removed from the Internet faster than you can say Prince and the New Web Sheriff Generation. (One copy might remain below the cut.) But does Prince actually have the right to ask for removal of the clips?

Radiohead believes they should have been able to ask for removal of the clips from YouTube, since they, you know, wrote the song and all.

In a recent interview, Thom Yorke said he heard about Prince’s performance from a text message and thought it was “hilarious.” Yorke laughed when his bandmate, guitarist Ed O’Brien, said the blocking had prevented him from seeing Prince’s version of their song.

“Really? He’s blocked it?” asked Yorke, who figured it was their song to block or not. “Surely we should block it. Hang on a moment.”

Yorke added: “Well, tell him to unblock it. It’s our … song.”

YouTube prohibits the posting of copyrighted material. If the site receives a complaint from a copyright owner, it will in most cases remove the video(s). Whether the same could be done for a company not holding a copyright is less clear, but Yorke’s argument would seem to bear some credence according to YouTube’s policies. YouTube, which is owned by Google, declined to comment.

Prince also did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.

Prince may be able to claim that he put enough of a spin on the song to have some copyright control over his version, but that claim probably won’t hold up. But who would dare argue with the Web Sheriff (who in my head looks a lot like Sheriff Lobo, but with a British accent)? He’s watching over us all!

Radiohead to Prince: Unblock ‘Creep’ cover videos [AP via CNN]