Tom Petty

How to Get Away With Pop Music Plagiarism

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This week, the big topic of conversation among music fans is whether the chorus of Sam Smith’s “Stay With Me” sounds enough like Tom Petty’s 1989 hit “Won’t Back Down” to warrant the 12.5 percent songwriting credit recently awarded to Petty and his co-writer, Jeff Lynne. Copyright infringement as it applies to songwriting plagiarism goes beyond merely how a song sounds, and if a songwriter even intended to copy the work of another. The field has become more and more litigious in recent decades, and to an outsider, the situation can look a bit creatively limiting. Sometimes people do go to court and win, but many big cases settle out of court on the basis of subconscious plagiarism. What a scary landscape to live in as a musician — being responsible for inadvertently copying someone else’s work you’ve never even heard.
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Dave Grohl’s Transformation From Gen X Icon to Guardian of Baby Boomer Rock: A Timeline

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This week, the Foo Fighters release Sonic Highways, their eighth album, which doubles as a selective history lesson in their own particular brand of rock ‘n’ roll worship. It’s fitting, considering their leader Dave Grohl has become one of Baby Boomer guitar music’s most vigilant defenders (take our quiz on that very topic), in an era when breathless praise of Led Zeppelin seems about as original as yelling “Free Bird” at a rock show.
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