[Update - Jan. 9, 2018, 3:44 pm] A spokesperson from Warner/Chappell, Radiohead's music publisher, issued a statement to Pitchfork clarifying that there is no law suit underway. The statement also claims that Radiohead did not say they'll only accept 100% of the publishing. Lana Del Rey's original Tweet (which is still on her Twitter account) misled us and many other outlets into reporting that she was being sued by Radiohead, which is false. We would like to extend our apologies for the mistake.
As Radiohead’s music publisher, it’s true that we’ve been in discussions since August of last year with Lana Del Rey’s representatives. It’s clear that the verses of “Get Free” use musical elements found in the verses of “Creep” and we’ve requested that this be acknowledged in favour of all writers of “Creep.” To set the record straight, no lawsuit has been issued and Radiohead have not said they “will only accept 100%” of the publishing of “Get Free.”
Music is a notoriously repetitive art form… Many songs borrow or reuse chord structures, melodies, lyrical themes and pacing concepts, so it’s very common to find similarities between works. So what constitutes “copyright infringement” in music?
Radiohead’s lawyers think they’ve found an example. They say Lana Del Rey’s “Get Free” copied its chord progression and melody from Radiohead’s “Creep”.
Anyone can tell that the songs are very similar.
The chord structures and melodies are almost identical.
However, in order to prove copyright infringement, Radiohead will have to prove that Lana Del Rey used their song as a direct source of inspiration for “Get Free”. She says that’s not the case. In a Tweet published Sunday, she also said she had tried to reach a compromise with Radiohead to avoid taking the issue to court – to no avail. "It’s true about the lawsuit. Although I know my song wasn’t inspired by Creep, Radiohead feel it was and want 100% of the publishing - I offered up to 40 over the last few months but they will only accept 100. Their lawyers have been relentless, so we will deal with it in court."
Ironically, Radiohead were also sued for copyright infringement after releasing “Creep”. The 1992 song became an enormous early hit for the band, launching their career. But it bears remarkable similarity to a 1972 song by Albert Hammond and Mike Hazlewood, called “The Air That I Breathe”. It was made famous two years later when The Hollies covered it.
After The Hollies sued for a share of writing credits, Radiohead shared the credits for “Creep” with Hammond and Hazlewood.
What do you think? Listen for yourself: