Classic Rock Legends Who Lost Money In Plagiarism Cases
via Led Zeppelin / Youtube
Plagiarism cases have long been a contentious issue in the music industry, affecting even some of the most accomplished musicians. From subconscious similarities to intentional nods, these legal battles have resulted in significant financial losses for artists. Below, we explore four musicians who found themselves on the wrong side of plagiarism cases, facing monetary consequences for alleged infringements in their popular songs.
George Harrison, solo musician and former member of The Beatles, faced a plagiarism case with his hit song “My Sweet Lord.” The judge ruled that Harrison had subconsciously copied The Chiffons’ song “He’s So Fine.” In 1981, Harrison was ordered to pay $587,000 in damages.
The Flaming Lips
The Flaming Lips encountered legal trouble with their song “Fight Test” due to similarities with Cat Stevens’ “Father and Son.” The court ruled in favor of Stevens, and the band had to split royalties with him.
Led Zeppelin has faced multiple accusations of plagiarism. They covered Joan Baez’s version of “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You” without crediting folk singer Anne Bredon, resulting in a royalty split. The songs “The Lemon Song” and “Bring It On Home” also landed them in legal trouble for borrowing from Willie Dixon and Howlin’ Wolf. They credited Dixon and paid a royalty to Howlin’ Wolf.
The Beach Boys
Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys wrote “Surfin’ USA” as a tribute to Chuck Berry’s “Sweet Little Sixteen.” However, Berry’s lawyers claimed plagiarism. To avoid a lawsuit, The Beach Boys signed over the writing credit and publishing royalties to Berry and his publisher, Arc Music.