Ryan Tedder Slams ‘Ludicrous’ Copyright Cases
20 May 2019 Entertainment
Ryan Tedder has written some of pop’s biggest hits, including Beyonce’s Halo, Ed Sheeran’s Happier and, for his own band One Republic, Counting Stars.
But he says pop is in danger of being stifled by the rise in copyright cases.
“It’s a conversation in every writing session,” he tells the BBC.
“The odds of getting sued in this day and age are so high, we’re going to get to a point where nobody can write anything – because everything will be derivative of something else.
“It’s just ludicrous.”
There’s been a surge in copyright claims ever since Marvin Gaye’s family sued Robin Thicke over the single Blurred Lines in 2015.
They successfully claimed Thicke and Pharrell Williams copied Gaye’s 1977 hit Got to Give It Up – winning $4.98m (£3.9m) in damages and a 50% share of future royalties.
Since then, artists including Bruno Mars, Mark Ronson, Madonna and Miley Cyrus have all been tied up in costly legal proceedings.
Others have sought to pre-empt potential claims by crediting people whose work influenced their songs.
Ed Sheeran shared the royalties of Shape Of You with the writers behind TLC’s No Scrubs, while Taylor Swift gave Right Said Fred a credit on Look What You Made Me Do after noticing a similarity to their 1991 single I’m Too Sexy.
Tedder says the plagiarism is usually not deliberate.
“And he said, ‘Ryan, with God as my witness, had I ever heard that song before? Probably. But do you know how young I am? I’m 25. I didn’t grow up listening to Tom Petty!'”
While Tedder has “never had a lawsuit, knock on wood,” he narrowly avoided one over his contribution to the Jonas Brothers’ new single, Sucker – which many people compared to Portugal The Man’s Feel It Still.
Portugal The Man were unconcerned, even acknowledging their own debt to The Marvellettes’ Please Mister Postman, but the incident still raised problems.
“We had to spend thousands of dollars on musicologists just to verify the fact that we didn’t reference the song at all,” says Tedder.
“I know John [Gourley] from Portugal The Man, and he never brought it up – which tells me it’s probably the publisher trying to make a landgrab,” the singer adds.
“But now we’re $5,000 poorer because we had to hire all these people to prove there was no case.
“So even if you don’t copy, sometimes it can still cost you.”