Lana Del Rey vs. Radiohead: Plagiarism and Lawsuits in the Music Industry

By Jade Siegel


Photo by The New Yorker.

On Sunday, January 7, Lana Del Rey posted on Twitter that Radiohead is filing a lawsuit against her. She claims that they are demanding 100% of the publishing for her song “Get Free” on her latest album Lust For Life because it was plagiarized from their song “Creep.”

Del Rey states that she previously offered up to 40%, but they will only accept 100. The singer went on in the post to say that the song wasn’t even inspired by “Creep.”

Radiohead, however, says that Del Rey’s claim is false. Radiohead denies wanting 100% of the publishing but they want it to be credited for the musical elements used in verses of the American singer’s song are also found in “Creep.”

Many Del Rey fans believe is Radiohead being hypocritical. A judge found that the band’s song is very similar to “The Air That I Breathe,” which was written by Hazelwood and Hammond for the Hollies in 1974. This means that Radiohead doesn’t even own all of the publishing over their own song.

Sophomore Matt Carolan said, “It’s very hypocritical because Radiohead’s song that Lana ‘plagiarized’ resulted in them being plagiarized for the song themselves. I just hope everything with this lawsuit gets resolved.”

This brings into question was constitutes a lawsuit being filed in the first place. Many songs use similar chord progressions and melodies, so the plagiarism is not a black and white issue. In fact, hundreds of videos can be found on Youtube comparing similar songs, yet all those artists did not choose to file lawsuits.

Musicians tend to be inspired by each other. In 2013, a judge believed Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” was too similar to Marvin Gaye’s “Got to Give it Up”, resulting in a charge of $5.3 million. In 2016, two hundred and twelve artists worked to overturn this decision.

The amicus brief they filed mentioned artists such as David Bowie, the Beatles, Elton John, and Elvis Presley. The world of music today would be very different if those artists and all artists in general did not draw inspiration from each other.

Junior and Soundcloud rapper Aiden Snell said, “I personally think sueing is an ugly thing in general, especially when it comes to an artist making music and getting bashed for it. How can anyone make music without being inspired by others? It’s a shame that we live in a world where a lot of artists still focus on the attention being drawn to themselves, therefore spreading hate when they hear a similar beat or song. The only thing Radiohead would accomplish by trying to sue her is showing greed and jealousy in the music industry. I personally as inspired by rappers such as Drake, Lil Skies, and Post Malone. Some might say I have a similar style to them, and we all have to start somewhere.”

The bigger issue here is not the controversy of if Lana Del Rey might get sued by Radiohead and if this event should occur, but the issue of artists being sued in general. There’s a difference between plagiarism and inspiration. If musicians had to make sure their songs sounded entirely different from anyone else’s out there, there would only be a small percent of music existing as opposed to what there is today.

Radiohead has denied filing a lawsuit against Lana Del Rey for now. Whether the artists’ songs do sound too similar or not, most fans would just like to agree that both songs are great and leave it at that.