Plagiarism. It’s a dirty word in the world of the arts.
The first large outbreak occurred in the mid-14th century when rats spread the dreaded plagiarism throughout Asia and Europe. Luckily, an army of felines with a strong streak of integrity went medieval on these pernicious rodents and ate the entire population.
But the disease transferred over, learning how to hide inside of its kitty hosts. To this day, the descendants of these “copycats” still pounce on unsuspecting songwriters, infecting their brains and causing them to appropriate the work of others (whether consciously or unconsciously).
Let’s look at an example, shall we? Elastica formed in London in 1992 and soon after became super-hyped by UK rock journalists due to their close association with Britpop royalty: lead singer Justine Frischmann was the girlfriend and sometime collaborator of Blur frontman Damon Albarn, and both Justine and drummer Justin Welch spent time in an early incarnation of Suede. In 1995, Elastica’s third single, “Connection,” became both their biggest hit…and their biggest headache.
Frischmann wrote the song using the main riff from Wire’s “Three Girl Rhumba” as a starting point. The lift was neither subtle, nor subconscious, and the gentlemen from Wire soon filed suit. The case was quietly settled out of court. Unfortunately, Elastica found themselves in trouble again with their next single, which the courts found bore a striking resemblance to a song by The Stranglers.
As you can see, one of the horrific consequences of plagiarism has been the uncontrollable proliferation of lawyers, for they, apparently, are the only people capable of treating the infection of infringement. But no one can eliminate it.
Remember that, kids. Plagiarism = more lawyers. Protect yourself…and all of us. Practice safe writing. #TheMoreYouKnow
Alright, now that we got all the speechifying out of the way, let’s crank this baby up to 11. (Seriously, though, “Connection” rocks. Turn up the volume and see if you can get the neighbors to call the cops.)