Hi, I’m Danny Karon, your Lovable Lawyer in front of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ahead of this year’s Rock Hall induction ceremony. It’s a big class with big acts: Jay-Z, Tina Turner, Foo Fighters, and more. What do all these artists share in common? They hate getting ripped off.
Now, what was the most famous musical rip off? We all remember it. Back in the 90s, Ice Ice Baby by Vanilla Ice. Remember that opening iconic bass line? It was a dead ringer for Queen and David Bowie’s Under Pressure and they knew it. They sued Vanilla Ice for violation of the copyright act of 1976.
Now, to win their case after showing they owned a valid copyright, which they did, they had to prove two things. One was that Vanilla Ice had access to their music. Well, Under Pressure was a huge worldwide hit. Access was easy. Second was a little trickier. They had to show that the songs were substantially similar. Sometimes, you need music experts to show it but not here. Everybody knew that those bass lines were identical. So, Queen and David Bowie won and they were entitled to royalties from the sales of Ice Ice Baby.
Now, whether you’re an artist or just a fan like me, you know ripping off somebody’s music is no way to get yourself into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame so pay attention. It’ll serve you well. If you want to learn more about legal wellness, I invite you to join me at yourlovablelawyer.com. Until next time, I’m Danny Karon, your Lovable Lawyer.
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