Nickelback Beats Song-Theft Copyright Lawsuit Over ‘Rockstar’ – Billboard


A federal choose on Thursday dismissed a copyright lawsuit claiming Nickelback ripped off its 2006 hit “Rockstar” from an earlier music known as “Rock Star.”

Adopting suggestions from a decrease choose, U.S. District Decide Robert Pitman dominated that there was zero proof that Chad Kroeger and the opposite members of the 2000s rock band ever heard Kirk Johnston’s earlier music – and that the 2 songs additionally simply didn’t share a lot overlap.

“Said merely, they don’t sound alike,” the choose wrote within the order adopted Thursday. “The place each songs evoke comparable themes, they’re rendered dissimilar by way of the vivid element of the unique expression in Nickelback’s lyrics.”

Johnston, the lead singer of a band known as Snowblind Revival, claimed the 2 songs shared many closely-related lyrics, about rock star life, making big quantities of cash, and having well-known buddies. However Thursday’s ruling mentioned that after a overview of the lyrics, that accusation at instances “borders on the absurd.”

“This consists of, for instance, any suggestion that the 2 baseball analogies in Nickelback’s work are proof that the band copied Johnston’s lyric ‘would possibly purchase the Cowboys’ skilled soccer workforce just because each are ‘references to sports activities’,” Decide Pitman wrote.

The one actual similarities between the 2 songs, the choose wrote, had been fundamental cliches — “outlandish stereotypes and pictures related to being an enormous, well-known, rock star” – that can’t be monopolized by anyone songwriter.

The choose particularly pointed to a research that reported 17 different in style songs that had shared comparable themes about rock stars, starting from “So You Need To Be A Rock And Roll Star” by The Byrds in 1966 to “Rockstar” by Poison in 2001.

Attorneys for each side didn’t instantly return requests for touch upon the choice.

Launched on Nickelback’s 2005 album All of the Proper Causes, “Rockstar” has not aged properly with critics. In 2008, the Guardian mentioned the music “makes actually no sense and is the worst factor of all time.” In 2012, Buzzfeed listed it because the second-worst music ever written, citing it for instance of “why everybody hates Nickelback a lot.” However the music was a industrial hit, reaching No. 6 on the Sizzling 100 in September 2007 and finally spending almost a 12 months on the chart.

Johnston sued in Might 2020, claiming the hit music had stolen “substantial parts” of his personal “Rock Star,” together with the “tempo, music kind, melodic construction, harmonic buildings, and lyrical themes.”

However in Thursday’s ruling, Decide Pitman mentioned Johnson had failed to point out that Nickelback had “entry” to his music with the intention to copy it – a key requirement in any copyright lawsuit. He argued that his band Snowblind Revival had carried out on the identical venue as Nickelback, however the choose mentioned that was not sufficient.

“Johnston has offered no probative proof that defendants had an inexpensive alternative to listen to plaintiff’s work.

With out proof that Kroeger or anybody else heard the music, Johnston would have wanted to show that the songs had been virtually equivalent – “strikingly comparable” in copyright legislation parlance. And Decide Pitman mentioned he fell very far in need of that.

“The Courtroom has performed a side-by-side examination of the works, fastidiously listening to and contemplating all variations of the songs of document,” the choose wrote. “As an ‘bizarre listener,’ the courtroom concludes {that a} layman wouldn’t take into account the songs and even their ‘hooks’ to be strikingly comparable.”

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