SAE Institute Nashville’s Music Business Program Chair Weighs in on U2 Copyright Infringement Allegations

Dr. E. Michael Harrington is a musicology and copyright law expert who has been involved with major cases of copyright issues involving the Dixie Chicks, 50 Cent and The Game, and the infamous ‘Blurred Lines’ decision.

British guitarist and songwriter Paul Rose filed a lawsuit on Monday, February 27, 2017 accusing the superstar band U2 of borrowing elements from his demo tape for the band’s song, “The Fly.” 26 years after the song’s debut, Mr. Rose is seeking a $5 million judgment for copyright infringement as well as a songwriting credit from U2.

“There is no copyrighted expression that was copied,” says Dr. Harrington, Music Business Program Chair at SAE Institute Nashville. “The discernible melodies between both have nothing in common. Like the ‘Blurred Lines’ decision, no melody, harmony, rhythm or lyrics were copied, and there was no sampling.”

Dr. Harrington’s reference to the infamous ‘Blurred Lines’ case involving Robin Thicke, Pharrell Williams, and Marvin Gaye is no coincidence; he has been an active participant in the case, sharing his perspective with major media outlets. His writings and interviews are cited as authority in ‘The Amicus Brief’ supporting the bid for Thicke and Williams to appeal the judgment against them. The ‘Blurred Lines’ case remains in the 9th Circuit of Appeals.

The timing of Mr. Rose’s lawsuit 26 years later is peculiar, but as Dr. Harrington explains, there is no limit to when action can be filed. “It’s unfortunate, but since the ‘Raging Bull’ decision in the Supreme Court, there is no longer an actual time frame that is too long to wait before filing an infringement.”

Regardless, Dr. Harrington believes the claims of Mr. Rose against U2 are bogus. The only similarity is insignificant: both are rock songs with loud guitars and rock bands in the most common time signature.”