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Coldplay: Viva la Larceny?

I don't have anything against Coldplay really; I just mostly agree with the New York Times' Jon Pareles that they are the most insufferable band of the decade. I guess they're pleasant enough. Now, however, I might actually have something to hold against them.

This item ran in the NYT last week, right about the time the bland Englishmen picked up seven Grammy nominations. Here's the deal: the rather boring, shred-obsessed, nerdy prog-hero Joe Satriani was suing the band for lifting part of one of their songs.

He filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against the British rock quartet Coldplay, contending that the Coldplay song “Viva la Vida” makes use of “substantial original portions” of his composition “If I Could Fly,” an instrumental track.

Since I couldn't care less about Satriani or Coldplay, I didn't pay much attention. Today I read a post by music industry ranter Bob Lefsetz that gave me pause, though. Lefsetz included a link to a video that's eerily similar to that ridiculous video of two Nickelback songs being played in stereo (I'd link it, for those of you who have been living under a rock, but the site appears to be down right now). Basically, the video plays a clip of "Viva La Vida," then part of "If I Could Fly." For the holdouts, the poster than plays them over one another. He seems to think it's sweet; I still think it's sorta dumb, but whatever.

The point is that this theft seems to be pretty brazen. Obviously, Chris Martin and Co. have been ripping off U2 and Radiohead for years, but what were they thinking? As Lefsetz writes,

If George Harrison can go to court and lose, what makes Chris Martin and his team think they can win this one? Especially with YouTube on Satriani's side?

It's like sampling. Clear the license. Pay the man. Coldplay could have paid Satriani and the world wouldn't be the wiser. How many people know the original anyway?

Coldplay isn't returning calls from the media, according to The Associated Press. That's OK: Save it for the judge, boys.

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