Cases of Musical Infringements

Lana Del Rey vs. Radiohead vs. The Hollies

January 15, 2018

There are only so many notes in the music, which means that every now and then one popular song winds up sounding a lot like another popular song. Here’s a look at a case of copyright infringement that’s currently burning up the charts.
Cases of Musical Infringements
One of the bestselling albums of 2017 was Lust for Life, the fifth album by somber and ethereal singer-songwriter Lana Del Rey. One standout track was the song “Get Free,” co-written by Del Rey.
Where did she get the inspiration for the slow, haunting tune? Inadvertently, probably, but Radiohead’s 1993 breakthrough single “Creep.” In early January 2018, reports emerged that the British band might sue Del Rey for lifting too many recognizable elements from their song for use in “Get Free.” Del Rey confirmed that she’d heard from Radiohead’s attorneys about a potential lawsuit.

On Twitter, she claimed to have not been directly inspired by “Creep,” but acknowledged that there were similarities between the two songs—something she realized a few months ago. Del Rey says that in 2017, she offered Radiohead 40 percent of the songwriting royalties generated by “Get Free,” but that Radiohead turned it down—they wanted the full 100 percent. The case will probably ultimately be decided by a judge.
What’s weird about Radiohead suing somebody for stealing “Creep” is that Radiohead was once sued for stealing “Creep” from somebody else. Shortly after Radiohead hit big with “Creep,” the band was sued by Albert Hammond and Mike Hazlewood. Those guys were members of the ‘60s and ‘70s band the Hollies, probably best known for their 1969 hit “The Air That I Breathe,” a song written by Hammond and Hazlewood.
The songwriters believed that the melody to “Creep” heavily relied on the melody from “The Air That I Breathe.” So did the courts—thereafter “Creep” has been officially credited to “Radiohead, Albert Hammond & Mike Hazlewood.” They earn royalties anytime “Creep” is purchased or played on the radio—and if the Del Rey lawsuit goes a certain way, they’ll get royalties for “Get Free” as well.