Joe Satriani Sues Coldplay for Plagiarism

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.

mojo-photo-coldplaysatriani.jpgPoor Coldplay. They just got word that they had the biggest-selling album of the year on iTunes and the second-highest number of Grammy nominations, and then a little thing like copying somebody else’s song has to go and get in the way of their celebration. Guitarist Joe Satriani has brought a suit against the British band, saying that the title track from Viva la Vida plagiarized one of his recent songs. From Reuters:

Satriani’s copyright infringement suit, filed on Thursday in Los Angeles federal court, claims the Coldplay song “Viva La Vida” incorporates “substantial original portions” of his 2004 instrumental “If I Could Fly.” The 52-year-old guitar virtuoso is seeking a jury trial, damages and “any and all profits” attributable to the alleged copyright infringement.

I’d just like to point out the Satriani song is from an album titled Is There Love In Space, a title that might actually be worse than Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends. Did Coldplay steal the idea for “crap” too? Anyhoo, the two songs are in the same key and have the same melody line; check out a YouTube video comparing the two songs and review previous plagiarism claims against Coldplay after the jump.

Hmm, verrry interesting. But if Coldplay copied Joe Satriani, they also copied Creaky Boards, who earlier this year made a claim against the same song. Weirdly, Creaky Boards’ “The Songs I Didn’t Write” also features the same “la-la-la-laaa, lee-lah,” melody line (did you get that?), which means, I guess, they also copied Joe Satriani? Watch their YouTube presentation of the tracks’ similarities below.

Of course, Coldplay themselves have already admitted to plagiarism, although you get the sense that it might just be Chris Martin’s insufferable pseudo-self-depreciation talking. He said in 2005 that the band “stole” the sound of UK combo Elbow, admitting that “we’ve never paid for our plagiarism,” and saying something similar to Rolling Stone about the band’s success, calling Coldplay “incredibly good plagiarists.” Their album of that year, X&Y, features the song “Talk,” which is basically a cover with new lyrics of Kraftwerk’s “Computer Love,” although at least they give the Kraftwerkers co-writing credits. Some people found that situation amusing enough to try making a mashup of the two songs, with limited success.

Even earlier, Dutch guitarist Peter Van Houten sued the band, claiming their song “Clocks” stole from his 1982 track, er, “Caviar and Champagne.” This may be the best video of them all. We report, you decide:


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend