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    Viva la legal abuse - have music 'rights' gone too far? (plus more Wembley 19th photos)

    joesatriani1.jpgHere is a nicely written article by Statepress thankful that the whole Coldplay/Satriani plagiarism episode is over...


    On Dec. 4, 2008, fusion rocker Joe Satriani filed a lawsuit against the collective members of Coldplay for copyright infringement in the band’s song “Viva la Vida.” Coldplay’s hit allegedly stole “substantial, original portions” from Satriani’s 2004 release, “If I Could Fly,” a musical love letter written for his wife. What Satriani dramatized as a blatant act of musical burglary was little more than a musical coincidence. True, both songs use a similar chord progression, but the melodies in question share little more than an opening motif.


    He claimed to have suffered “substantial damage to his professional reputation … as well as losses in an amount not yet ascertained.” A listener of both artists, I was particularly curious to know what of Satriani’s underground fusion compositions made its way onto the radio by way of Coldplay. Once familiarized with both songs, I was disappointed...

    In an exclusive interview with Musicradar.com, Satriani recounted the moment he heard Coldplay’s performance: "I felt like a dagger went right through my heart. It hurt so much … I spent so long writing the song, thinking about it, loving it, nursing it … and then somebody comes along and plays the exact same song and calls it their own," Satriani said.


    I don’t doubt Satriani’s musical intimacy. What I think he is forgetting is that there are only so many ways 12 notes can be arranged — a thought which leads me to the most amusing part of this story. While Satriani may have been the only one to file a lawsuit, he has not been alone in his assertions. Both Cat Stevens and indie-band Creaky Boards also claimed to be the original authors of “Viva la Vida.”


    Is there something wrong with this picture? Three musicians, all claiming to have written Coldplay’s hit before they did? That’s not to mention “Francés limón” by Argentine rock band Los Enanitos Verdes, which in my opinion most resembles (and predates) Satriani’s work. Online viewers have pointed out even more similarities in other songs, from a 1940s jazz standard to novelty icon Günther’s “Teeny Weeny String Bikini.”


    Pretending for a moment that Satriani really was deliberately plagiarized, what notable “damages” could possibly occur between artists operating in such different musical markets? Based on the fan base and quality of music produced by artist, I hardly think any Satriani fan would stop buying his CDs because they heard “Viva la Vida” on an iPod commercial.


    Fortunately — if only for my own sanity — the case was dropped two weeks ago. According to Billboard.com, it seems that a financial settlement between both parties has finally been reached without requiring Coldplay to admit unlawful behavior. While I am relieved to see this whole case come to a close, I wonder how many more trials of “stolen intellectual property” will continue before we appreciate the fact that our judicial system is not in place to coddle our egos. It should be a means of supporting reasonable claims against legitimate offenses that threaten the human welfare. Viva la legal abuse.




    Photos of Coldplay at Wembley stadium, London, UK (19th September 2009):


























    Photos by TheAngie




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