DefMonkey57 May Have His Day In Court Yet

noah | May 19, 2009 11:00 am
Joe Satriani’s plagiarism lawsuit against Coldplay, which pits his song “If I Could Fly” against their 2008 hit “Viva La Vida,” could theoretically use YouTube comments in its arguments, according to lawyers at the firm Kilpatrick Stockton. Writing in the trade journal Entertainment Law & Finance, Joseph M. Beck, Christopher P. Bussert, and James A. Trigg argue that the free-for-all that erupted on Google’s video-sharing site in the wake of Satriani’s accusations could help either side of the case:

What makes the Internet commentary regarding the two songs particularly interesting is that much of it replicates the type of expert analysis that both sides will likely use if the case goes forward. In music copyright infringement cases, it is rare for parties to rely solely on bare assertions of copying or independent creation. Instead, they frequently engage “musicology” experts to undertake detailed analysis of every element of alleged similarity between the two works and conclude whether all or portions of one work were copied from the other. The parties and their experts in Satriani should consider the analyses of the “amateur musicologists” that have weighed in via the Internet and other media, if for no other reason than they may be informative of how a jury might ultimately view the case.

While it’s not likely that people posting “COLDPLAY SUX” will be considered as “experts”–although hey, in these tough days for words, who knows?–the lawyers do go on to cite two clips by a Canadian guitar teacher, Andrew Wasson, that feature exhaustively detailed analyses of the structures of the songs:

In addition to pointing out the clip claiming that Satriani may have ripped off both Cat Stevens and Los Enanitos Verdes, the authors of the piece showcased their industriousness by pointing out that Toto’s 1982 track “I Won’t Hold You Back” also employs a sorta-similarly pealing melody during its guitar solo–and that Satriani has, in the past, collaborated with Toto axeman Steve Lukather. It’s not embeddable, and the similarity is super-fleeting–only about three notes; you can hear for yourself at the 3:18 mark–but note that earlier in the piece, the lawyers claim that a riff need only be a few notes long to be infringey. Perhaps, as a way to head 27-years-moldy unpleasantness off at the pass, Toto’s lawyers should take that particular claim to YouTube in order to gauge public opinion?Kilpatrick Stockton [PDF linked from homepage; HT Music Radar]