Joe Satriani Sues Coldplay for Plagiarism

mojo-photo-coldplaysatriani.jpgPoor Coldplay. They just got word that they had the biggest-selling album of the year on iTunes and the second-highest number of Grammy nominations, and then a little thing like copying somebody else’s song has to go and get in the way of their celebration. Guitarist Joe Satriani has brought a suit against the British band, saying that the title track from Viva la Vida plagiarized one of his recent songs. From Reuters:

Satriani’s copyright infringement suit, filed on Thursday in Los Angeles federal court, claims the Coldplay song “Viva La Vida” incorporates “substantial original portions” of his 2004 instrumental “If I Could Fly.” The 52-year-old guitar virtuoso is seeking a jury trial, damages and “any and all profits” attributable to the alleged copyright infringement.

I’d just like to point out the Satriani song is from an album titled Is There Love In Space, a title that might actually be worse than Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends. Did Coldplay steal the idea for “crap” too? Anyhoo, the two songs are in the same key and have the same melody line; check out a YouTube video comparing the two songs and review previous plagiarism claims against Coldplay after the jump.

Hmm, verrry interesting. But if Coldplay copied Joe Satriani, they also copied Creaky Boards, who earlier this year made a claim against the same song. Weirdly, Creaky Boards’ “The Songs I Didn’t Write” also features the same “la-la-la-laaa, lee-lah,” melody line (did you get that?), which means, I guess, they also copied Joe Satriani? Watch their YouTube presentation of the tracks’ similarities below.

Of course, Coldplay themselves have already admitted to plagiarism, although you get the sense that it might just be Chris Martin’s insufferable pseudo-self-depreciation talking. He said in 2005 that the band “stole” the sound of UK combo Elbow, admitting that “we’ve never paid for our plagiarism,” and saying something similar to Rolling Stone about the band’s success, calling Coldplay “incredibly good plagiarists.” Their album of that year, X&Y, features the song “Talk,” which is basically a cover with new lyrics of Kraftwerk’s “Computer Love,” although at least they give the Kraftwerkers co-writing credits. Some people found that situation amusing enough to try making a mashup of the two songs, with limited success.

Even earlier, Dutch guitarist Peter Van Houten sued the band, claiming their song “Clocks” stole from his 1982 track, er, “Caviar and Champagne.” This may be the best video of them all. We report, you decide:


The more we thought about how MoJo's journalism can have the most impact heading into the 2020 election, the more we realized that so many of today's stories come down to corruption: democracy and the rule of law being undermined by the wealthy and powerful for their own gain.

So we're launching a new Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption. We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We'll publish what we find as a major series in the summer of 2020, including a special issue of our magazine, a dedicated online portal, and video and podcast series so it doesn't get lost in the daily deluge of breaking news.

It's unlike anything we've done before and we've got seed funding to get started, but we're asking readers to help crowdfund this new beat with an additional $500,000 so we can go even bigger. You can read why we're taking this approach and what we want to accomplish in "Corruption Isn't Just Another Scandal. It's the Rot Beneath All of Them," and if you like how it sounds, please help fund it with a tax-deductible donation today.

We Recommend


Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.


Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.