Would Madge Sue Gaga?
Since the moment LADY GAGA’s “Born This Way” made its debut on Friday, many fans and haters alike have argued that the song is very similar in feel and melody to MADONNA’s classic self-empowerment anthem “Express Yourself.” There have been numerous accusations that Gaga has “ripped off” Madonna; no less a songwriting authority than ONEREPUBLIC’s RYAN TEDDER even told the Hollywood Reporter, “If I wrote ‘Express Yourself’ and I heard that song, I would be calling my manager five minutes later.” But does Madonna really have legal cause to sue Gaga for copyright infringement? One expert says no.
E. MICHAEL HARRINGTON, professor of copyright law at New Jersey’s William Paterson University, says that while he certainly sees the similarities between the two songs, that in itself is not enough to constitute copyright infringement. After a cursory listen to both songs, Harrington says, “I lean slightly that it’s not a rip-off,” adding, “I’d like to put a little more time into it but I can see significant differences.” He adds, “They sound similar, but they’re not identical.”
Harrington acknowledges that the songs are in the same key and the melodies may be similar, but he says it all comes down to how unique the song in question is — and frankly, neither song is particularly unique. He explains, “I could find other songs, given a little time, that predate both songs. [They’re] not the most original or creative pieces. Copyright is based on how original something is.” He adds, “The other things are just kind of stylistically similar, but not similar in terms of being a legal issue.”
So bottom line, does Madonna have a case against Gaga? Harrington says, “At this point, I’d say probably not, but there have been lawsuits initiated over things that sound less similar.” Stay tuned. (ABC NEWS)