Lana Del Rey has announced that she is being sued by Radiohead over claims that her song ‘Get Free’ copies elements of Radiohead’s song ‘Creep’.
At first her claims are fishy, she stated that the song had been ‘inspired by’ the groups hit which seems like really gentle language to bring fourth a lawsuit. However, Radiohead said they want one hundred percent of the publishing, via Twitter Del Rey said “I offered up to 40 over the last few months but they will only accept 100. Their lawyers have been relentless, so we will deal with it in court.” Where does the line get drawn for plagiarism in terms of creative endeavours?
After a while it becomes somewhat paradoxical to think about and your brain starts to hurt. With only a finite number of cords and melodies in existence and music having been around since basically forever there is going to be some overlap.
Awkwardly, Radiohead no longer own all of the rights to the song ‘Creep’ in the first place. Radiohead already conceded partial songwriting credit on ‘Creep’ to Mike Hazlewood and Albert Hammond—a few years ago, a judge found that ‘Creep’ shares too many common elements with ‘The Air That I Breathe’, a hit written by Hazelwood and Hammond for the Hollies, in 1974—meaning the band itself does not even control the whole of its publishing. I question if Radiohead really have a leg to stand on with t
his claim bearing this in mind. When you acknowledge you were not entirely original in your own work seems a bit petty and odd to start casting accusations around.
Radiohead’s publishers, Warner/Chappell, at the time of the release of ‘Get Free’, refuted Del Rey’s claim: “It’s clear that the verses of ‘Get Free’ use musical elements found in the verses of ‘Creep’ and we’ve requested that this be acknowledged in favour of all writers of ‘Creep’…To set the record straight, no lawsuit has been issued and Radiohead have not said they ‘will only accept 100%’ of the publishing of ‘Get Free.’”
Intellectual property should be protected—an artist’s work has no less proprietary value than a corporation’s, which of course means it also deserves strident safeguarding. Yet there is always a degree of absurdity to these disputes, which, independent of direct and objective mimicry, tend to be predicated on interpretive leaps—on sniffing out what a song feels like, and whether or not that feel has been repurposed egregiously.
The fundamental instability of that math could, eventually, necessitate an entire rethinking of the creative process. The situation has felt especially dire in the wake of a now infamous lawsuit, in 2013, over Robin Thicke’s colossal hit ‘Blurred Lines’, which a jury found too derivative of Marvin Gaye’s ‘Got To Give it Up’—despite nary an overlapping chord progression.
Either way it seems that the music industry is becoming a little too incestuous for itself. Forcing musicians to start looking over their shoulders and become anxious about who may come after them for money or who may steal from them.