- Influence or Theft? The Fuzzy Line Between Inspiration and Stealing
- Lana Del Rey vs. Radiohead vs. The Hollies
It is undeniable that the 2017 song “Get Free” from Lana Del Rey sounds a lot like the famous 1993 hit “Creep” from Radiohead. This is why Thom Yorke, Radiohead’s frontman and songwriter, wanted writers’ credits on the song. He started a dispute for plagiarism against Del Rey in January 2018, considering suing the US artist if there’s no compensation. So far, only Del Rey, Kieron Menzies, and Rick Nowels were mentioned as writers for the song.
Yorke’s action is easy to understand if we consider that he was himself sued by songwriters Albert Hammond and Mike Hazlewood for the same song. The case was about similarities between “Creep” and their song “The Air That I Breathe,” which was a hit for The Hollies in the seventies. The song was initially released in 1972 by Albert Hammond himself, then covered by Phil Everly in 1973 and finally covered by The Hollies in 1974.
In that particular case, both parties came to an extrajudicial agreement for an undisclosed amount and the pair were given co-writing credits on the song. Hammond said in 2002 that “Radiohead agreed that they had actually taken it from ‘The Air That I Breathe’ and because they were honest, they weren’t sued to the point of saying ‘We want the whole thing.’ So we ended up just getting a little piece of it.”
In the Del Rey vs. Yorke case, before going to court, both parties tried to sort the copyright issue out themselves during weeks which is very common. It’s always better to try to reach an extrajudicial settlement in such disputes. Recent cases have proven that going before a jury can be a risky gamble.
Therefore, to get a technical opinion prior to litigation, both parties may, for instance, hire musicologists to analyze the similarities between the songs. Even if songs sound very similar, musicologists could demonstrate that such similarities are trivial or commonplace in some cases.
In March 2018, Lana Del Rey announced the lawsuit between herself and Radiohead was “over” during her performance at the Lollapalooza festival in Brazil. She told the crowd “Well, f—! I mean, now that my lawsuit’s over, I guess I can sing that song anytime I want, right?” while smocking on stage.
Listen to the three hits and make your opinion: