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Thread: Satch v Coldplay

  1. #1
    Registered User SkinnyDevil's Avatar
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    Satch v Coldplay

    I thought it might be good to put a mirror thread in the "composition" section to discuss the actual musical aspects of this while discussing the legal aspects here, but what the hell - we can do it all in one place!

    No matter where you stand on this, it's bound to be a wild ride. Leave comments there and here!

    http://tinfoilmusic.net/news-mainmen...tch-v-coldplay
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  2. #2
    Registered User jimc8p's Avatar
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    My first thought is that neither song particularly hits you with originality. Similar/identical chord movements turn up all over the place, especially when they're good/familiar. My second thought is, the melody isn't the same? A melody is bound to hit similar notes over the same chords. My third thought is, same key, same tempo? -a bit weird. But if you investigate, the key and tempo are different. My last thought is that Coldplay have been writing original songs for years...are they really likely to a) resort to ripping off another famous musician, and b) think they can get away with it...?

  3. #3
    Registered User SkinnyDevil's Avatar
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    Personally, I don't think Coldplay intentionally ripped anyone off.

    That said, the tempo & key are dead on, as is the primary melody (check out that vid clip that plays them together with the article).

    Way back when, George Harrison (Beatles) was sued over "My Sweet Lord" due to it's overwhelming similarity to the Chiffon's "He's So Fine". George denied copying the song, but the judge found him guilty of "subconsciously plagiarizing", which Harrison acknowledged and apologized (and paid for).

    Given Satch's place in the music world, I'm amazed the attornies involved didn't move to settle this out of court ASAP.

    My prediction: Coldplay settles out of court for a huge sum, then Marvel Comics (or artist John Byrne, or both) sues Satch for using - without permission or payments - their artwork on his "Surfing with the Alien" cover.

    Ain't IP a bitch?
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  4. #4
    Registered User jimc8p's Avatar
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    Actually, in that video someone has changed the tempo and key of 'viva la vida' to match 'if i could fly'...check out the two songs individually:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dvgZkm1xWPE
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CMcjXo8ZuqE

  5. #5
    Registered User SkinnyDevil's Avatar
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    Cool. Thanx!

    edit: Ah...Satch's a tad slower and they are a tri-tone apart....
    Last edited by SkinnyDevil; 12-09-2008 at 05:10 PM.
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  6. #6
    Registered User ashc's Avatar
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    I'm sure this is just a coincidence of permutations of notes - it's going to happen now and again . .

    Coldplay may choose to be indignant on the basis that if you're british, unless you are very heavily into technical guitar playing, you've never even heard a single note of Joe Satriani's output in your life (I hadn't until now). Still might have been easier to pay up because ignorance won't help in court

  7. #7
    Artistically Bankrupt
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    The court should bust them (Coldplay) if they don't settle before then. The case isn't "was Satch original enough to lay claim to it?" or "did Coldplay intentionally rip of Satch?" It is "does the Coldplay song infringe on the copyright of the Satch song?" The fact that radios, televisions, and message boards are filled with people carrying on about the similarities means that infringement has obviously happened. This is more readily recognizeable than the classic examples of "My Sweet Lord/He's So Fine" or "Ghostbusters/I Need a New Drug."

    I don't believe in busting people over chord progressions, rhythyms, etc., (actually, no judge will do it even if their jurisdiction allows it) but melodic hooks are the marketable which the laws are supposed to protect. All a pop song can claim to be is a 3.5 minute melodic gimmick or a striking lyric.

    Granted, I have no problem with our current copyright and IP laws except that they are not enforced stringently enough. But then, I am apparently an evil corporate shill.
    "If a child learns which is jay and which is sparrow, he'll no longer see birds nor hear them sing."

  8. #8
    Ibreathe Music Advisor EricV's Avatar
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    I agree to Blutwulf, regarding chord progressions, rhythms, and hooks etc. However, in this case, the combination of similarities is... I dunno, VERY suspicious to me.
    The tempo is similar. The key is different, yet the progressions are very close. (IV VII III I for the Satch one, VI VII III I for Coldplay, both are based on the respective minor key they are in, and the IV vs. VI difference...well, the term "substitution" comes to mind)

    Neither the progressions or rhythms are that unique (of course not), but once you add the similarities there to the similarities regarding melody, its hard to imagine this to be a coincidence... it kinda adds up.

    Coldplay may choose to be indignant on the basis that if you're british, unless you are very heavily into technical guitar playing,
    I think the same would be true for people from the States or anywhere too, cuz even though Satch might be most successful in the States, this song wasnt really a hit there either.
    And I wouldnt be surprised if their guitarist has listened to a Satch-CD before... we willnever know. Maybe the tune was used in some commercial (not unusual, Satchs music has been used in ads and commercials, for jingles etc) or whatever.
    Or maybe he DOES like to listen to Satriani..or their producer does... or the sound engineer... or a good friend or relative...
    Who knows? =)

    Anyway, the point is, this whole thing is quite suspicious, and by the looks of it, I dont think Coldplay can get around this that easily
    Eric

  9. #9
    Registered User jimc8p's Avatar
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    just for interest..

    I felt like a dagger went right through my heart. It hurt so much...The second I heard it, I knew it was [my own] If I Could Fly. Almost immediately, from the minute their song came out, my e-mail box flooded with people going, 'Have you heard this song by Coldplay? They ripped you off man.' I mean, I couldn't tell you how many e-mails I received...Everybody noticed the similarities between the songs. It's pretty obvious. It's as simple as that - when you listen to a song and you say, 'Wow, that's a real rip-off.'...I started writing it on the Flying In A Blue Dream tour back in 1990. But because of the way I write, sometimes songs take a while, as this one did. In 2003 I started demoing it in earnest. I played it on the acoustic guitar on a demo so I could sing the melody, then I demoed it on electric to get the sound. And the performance turned out to be so spontaneous, so right and so emotional, that it wound up being a keeper...It was a love letter to my wife, Rubina a simple, direct expression of feeling...That's what really hurts about this whole thing. That I spent so long writing the song, thinking about it, loving it, nursing it, and then finally recording it and standing on stages the world over playing it - and then somebody comes along and plays the exact same song and calls it their own...Everybody's assumes I'm trying to go after these guys in Coldplay, as if I'm doing this with malice...That's the furthest thing from my mind. I'm just doing what I need to do as an artist, to protect what's mine, to protect those feelings I put down in song...I did everything I could to avoid a court case with this situation. But Coldplay didn't want to talk about it. They just wanted this whole thing to go away. Maybe they figured this little guitar player guy will leave them alone after a while, I don't know...But we're talking about a piece of art that I created, and that's something I feel is important. I think everybody should feel that way.
    With the greatest possible respect to Joe Satriani, we have now unfortunately found it necessary to respond publicly to his allegations. If there are any similarities between our two pieces of music, they are entirely coincidental, and just as surprising to us as to him. Joe Satriani is a great musician, but he did not write or have any influence on the song Viva La Vida. We respectfully ask him to accept our assurances of this and wish him well with all future endeavours. Coldplay.

  10. #10
    Registered User SkinnyDevil's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jimc8p
    With the greatest possible respect to Joe Satriani, we have now unfortunately found it necessary to respond publicly to his allegations. If there are any similarities between our two pieces of music, they are entirely coincidental, and just as surprising to us as to him. Joe Satriani is a great musician, but he did not write or have any influence on the song Viva La Vida. We respectfully ask him to accept our assurances of this and wish him well with all future endeavours. Coldplay.
    That probably would have carried more weight with Satch's attornies if it hadn't been for the singer mentioning a lawsuit even before there was one, and referring to Joe as "Moe Batriani".

    2 months ago (when they refused to speak to Joe) interviewed on TV:

    "When we finished the song 'Viva La Vida,' our only hit single, we knew that was good. And I will maintain that till my dying day, that it's not that bad. Although we are being sued by about 12 people who say that we stole it, though I promise we didn't. Including... I probably shouldn't say. [Laughter] I can't tell you, I can't tell you, but it rhymes with Moe Batriani."

    Here's the vid (3rd clip, about 3 minutes in):

    http://new.music.yahoo.com/blogs/vid...t-aint-so-joe/
    Last edited by SkinnyDevil; 12-10-2008 at 12:53 PM.
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  11. #11
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    I should explain my evil stance on IP, and why I'd bust Coldplay (even though I am giving them the benefit of the doubt and assuming they unknowingly did it). Well, "should" is a strong word. Let me rephrase... I am at my desk at work and sipping the morning coffee and cruising the worksafe message boards and just feel like babbling. (The word of the day is "honesty.")

    Although I can argue that music is simply some disposeable cultural element, I am indeedy the product of my culture. That is, knowing objectively that there is no cosmic meaning to my relationship with "Ten Years Gone" by Zeppelin does not remove the subjective relationship and the effects it has on me. It is a part of who I am, we are a part of all that which we have met, yada yada.

    The music I grew up listening to was a business-managed deliverable product, developed, advertised, and underpinned by the pure greed of businessmen as well as artists, from Robert Stigwood hawking the Bee Gees right to Peter Grant packaging and selling Zeppelin. You may think your heroes were not in it for the money, but in reality they had the same dream as yourself, and I'd just call you a liar if fame and money were not part of that dream.

    There was no true "competition." The markets were penetratable by any label who wanted to try, and no marketshare in a deliverable sense existed. Sony could sell 5 albums a year to every human on Earth, and Atco could still sell records. The only real competition came from paying radio station programmers to air what you were selling, or placing your product into movies or television, etc. Thanks to the advent of FM radio, suddenly tiny labels with acts who couldn't get on AM radio had an outlet as well. The cash to be made was endless. People who were in garage bands one year were in private jumbo jets 5 years later.

    The prospect of all that cash had labels signing everybody and giving them a whirl. Kansas, for instance got a freaking record contract from Don Kirshner in the middle of the early 70's golden age of one-hit pop wonders like Andy Kim. Many, many great acts which were not ostensibly marketable were gambled on. Frequently, the labels won. There were endless clones signed as well. Every label had their own version of "Act X." For instance, Chicago, Blood, Sweat and Tears, Ides of March, etc. Skynyrd, .38 Special, Blackfoot, etc. (This phenomenon still continues today, but clones are the overwhelming bulk of signings. Labels can't risk spending money on a gamble.)

    The cash came from royalties. Every record sale, every spin at a radio station, every cover performance, etc., netted a little chunk of dough for anyone who got a cut of the royalties. Everyone got a chunk of the mechanical sale (the actual record album) as well. Rod Stewart has mansions in 4 countries right now because of the jaw-dropping royalty checks he got.

    With that much easy money, there was a lot of experimentation and originality from people wanting their go at it, and incentive for the publishers to make sure I got a chance to hear it. Nectar floats to the surface in such an environment.

    Now, though, the money has evaporated, leaving us with "sure thing" deliverables. That is, "homogenized crap." Easily pirated music (downloaders), far too many people eating a chunk of each pie (badly run labels), and near-monopolistic outlets (Clearchannel Communications probably owns your favorite radio station, and all the retailers use the same handful of distributors), and the costs of operation make it too painful to gamble or otherwise produce music that is marketed to more than the dwindling demographic who still buys albums rather than singles. Shelves are filled with boxed sets of music from decades past, and iTunes is filled with singles from pop acts. Turds float to the surface in such an environment.
    "If a child learns which is jay and which is sparrow, he'll no longer see birds nor hear them sing."

  12. #12
    Bedroom metalurgist LaughingSkull's Avatar
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    Perhaps the didn't do it intentionally. Sure, it could happen, althogh the amount of similary makes this quite suspicious ....

    Event thouh, when contacted, were they inoccent, they should have recognize it, not ignore it.
    Go get them, Joe!

  13. #13
    Registered User SkinnyDevil's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blutwulf
    I should explain my evil stance on IP, and why I'd bust Coldplay (even though I am giving them the benefit of the doubt and assuming they unknowingly did it).....
    While this was a fabulous disquisition on the history of the now archaic record production & distribution model, I see no support for current IP policies (specifically, copyright laws) at all, since a failing business model is not grounds for supporting something that exists outside of that model.

    Coldplay was sued because they deserved to be sued. Why? For refusing to respond in any way (except one ridiculing remark 2 months prior to the lawsuit which was spoken to the public, rather than following proper channels and having their attorniues speak to his attornies) to Joe's attempted communications. Joe obviously didn't want to go public while Coldplay's people are either stupid or just wanted the press (remember Gene Simmons' line "...there is no bad press"?).

    But the notion that Coldplay should be sued because a late 20th century biz model is failing fast in the 21st century doesn't carry any water.
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  14. #14
    Registered User Madaxeman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SkinnyDevil

    Coldplay was sued because they deserved to be sued. Why? For refusing to respond in any way (except one ridiculing remark 2 months prior to the lawsuit which was spoken to the public, rather than following proper channels and having their attorniues speak to his attornies) to Joe's attempted communications. Joe obviously didn't want to go public while Coldplay's people are either stupid or just wanted the press (remember Gene Simmons' line "...there is no bad press"?).
    It is probably a safe bet the whole thing wouldn't have gone this far if Coldplay would have addressed it initially.
    Regardless, I feel they blatanty copied the song. It is just too similar. My thought is they were familiar with the Satriani song and developed theirs maybe? thinking because theirs had vocals people would not make the connection.
    Who knows...?
    Regardless of all this, doesn't the whole issue will come down to copyright law?

  15. #15
    Artistically Bankrupt
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    But the notion that Coldplay should be sued because a late 20th century biz model is failing fast in the 21st century doesn't carry any water.
    You have combined my stance on IP and my reasons for suing Coldplay, which were two different things. Make no mistake, you and I are (almost certainly) light years apart on our opinions concerning IP, but my reasons for suing Coldplay would be legal reasons rather than the business model of some evil corporate empire.
    "If a child learns which is jay and which is sparrow, he'll no longer see birds nor hear them sing."

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