Beach House consider action over VW 'sound alike'
Baltimore indie duo Beach House have
described an official statement sent out by Volkswagon as a ‘ cop out’ after
accusing the car manufacturer of plagiarism of the band’s 2010 single ‘Take Care’ when VW used a sound alike in
used as the soundtrack of a recent car advert. To be clear - the advert is not a copy of the song exactly
– and it is not a copied sound recording – more of a ‘sound alike’ of the
band’s ‘feel’. VW denied any copying and
maintained that the song in its ad was merely inspired by the duo's ‘dream pop’ - with
VW saying “We greatly respect the talent of Beach House and never set out to
replicate a specific song of theirs or anyone else’s. Most important to us was
to find a track which matched the narrative of the advert, and we believe we
have achieved this in the final edits”. You can take a listen online (see the link
below) and in this blogger's opinion it’s fair to say that the feel of the advert’s sound track sounds
rather like ‘Take Care’.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the
band’s manager Jason Forster was contacted numerous times by the agency behind
the ad, DDB, asking to use the duo’s track. A producer from the agency is also
alleged to have told Forster that “I’d be happy to jump on a call, fly someone
to the US, offer more money and listen to anything you have to say”. Meanwhile
the studio which created the final song for the advert, Sniffy Dog, told the WSJ
it couldn’t comment due to a confidentiality agreement. Beach House are said to
be considering taking legal action.
This story brings to mind a recent BBC Radio4 programme entitled The Barlow-Morgenstern Method (unfortunately no longer available via the iPlayer) which discussed the subject of musical copyright. One segment featured Neil Innes discussing how he wrote the songs for The Ruttles which were supposed to sound like the Beatles but without infringing the copyright in their songs. Ironically this was around the same time that George Harrison was being sued in the US courts over the song My Sweet Lord copying the Chiffons song He's So Fine.
Andy - I did a BBC Radio 2 programme with Neil Innes and others a few years ago called 'The Song Remains The Same' when Ruttle Neil recounted this story - and pointed out that George Harrison actively supported the Ruttles, but if I remember rightly Neil's lawyer asked him what his litigation 'budget' might be should Apple sue - and as he had no such budget was reluctantly advised against recording an album of his (non infringing!) songs!
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