October 23, 2013 - submitted by Ian, United Kingdom

Q. Hi Oracle,

I was listening to Mechanical Bull, Kings of Leon's new album. Their track Temple sounds very, very similar to Don Quixote/Spanish Rain... It seems to have a very similar tempo, chord sequence and sound.

Not to say that Coldplay will, but could the band legally question the song's similarity to a track they did not officially release? Have the band ever questioned other artists from pinching their music, or is it a touchy subject?

Many thanks in advance!

Jamie


The Oracle replies:

Really? When I first heard Don Quixote/Spanish Rain I said it sounded like Kings of Leon so I'd say you have that the wrong way around. Not that it matters because songs are bound to have similar chord progressions and tempos to others as there aren't infinite numbers of either.

I hadn't heard Temple so I decided I should. This is not and never would be a legal issue at all not just because of the friendship between bands but because as far as my ears can tell, there's no issue full stop. There's a fine line between plagiarism and similarity and if it's anything, it's the latter.

It's not always a case of "pinching"; semblance does not necessarily mean theft.
As you know, Coldplay have always credited their sources and paid royalties in accordance.
Whether a song is released is a grey area - but as it exists and has been heard, one could argue by whom, when & where. Hard to prove but I'd like to think that if somebody knowingly takes a sample or whatever, they'll pay for it. That's how we would always do things around here as we're a moral, decent bunch.
I've written jokes, slogans and thoughts that I may never have publicly performed to large audiences but they've appeared in the ether. I'd say that us humans aren't all that unique and it's highly likely someone else had the same idea that I did. Same goes for music. It's not an impossibility.