Creed Sues to Stop Advertiser Exploitation of Music
The Yamaha Motor Corporation is being sued for using Creed's 1999 chart-topping hit Higher in a commercial for motorcycles.
The lawsuit was filed on Tuesday in Florida District Court by Tremonti/Stapp Music, a publishing company set up by vocalist Scott Stapp and guitarist Mark Tremonti. They claim that Yamaha used the musical composition in an ad broadcast during this year's Indianapolis 500 auto race and continued to air the ad afterwards.
It's unclear from the complaint whether the commercial is alleged to have included a snippet from the actual sound recording or whether Yamaha allegedly recreated a version of the song for its commercial. (The plaintiff's lawyer declined to talk to us.)
It would hardly be surprising if it's the latter.
Recently, a growing number of musicians have expressed frustration at advertisers for ripping off music with nearly identical facsimiles of songs.
For example, popular Icelandic band Sigur Ros recently blogged about advertisers who may be slyly getting around permission slips and licensing fees. The band said it never licenses its songs for commercials, but members often hear ads with "strangely familiar" music. The band said it had no interest in suing or directly accusing advertisers of plagiarism, but wished to raise the issue.
Since then, others in the music community have also started thinking about the topic. Pitchfork, an influential indie music website, recently pointed to other commercials where it appeared that an advertiser had taken music from prominent indie bands by changing a note here and there.
Only a matter of time before this spilled into a courtroom. We'll have to find out more about the Creed case to see if this is the test case -- or whether Creed is alleging a literal theft. If anybody has seen the commercial, let us know in the comment section.