A Service of Saddleback College and
California State University, Northridge

Song Similarities - Coincidence?

Have you ever heard a song you could swear was based off of someone else’s work? Every once in a while a hit song seems too good to be true.

Sam Smith had a smash hit with “Stay With Me”, but publisher’s of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ “I Won’t Back Down” felt the chorus matched to closely. In this case, Sam Smith’s publisher has settled to add Petty and the song’s co-writer, ELO’s Jeff Lynne, to the songwriting credit. Smith’s rep says that the similarity was a complete coincidence. Listen to both songs below:


In some cases, these fights don’t come to an easy end and last decades. Spirit’s Randy California claimed that Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway To Heaven” ripped off “Taurus”, which was released two years earlier. Last year, California’s estate sued Led Zeppelin for songwriting credits and the band has fought the accusation. Take a listen for yourself below:


So what do you think when you hear about copyright infringement? Do you think bands intentionally take other material or is it mere coincidence?


So Tom Petty has weighed in on the settlement and he did it in classic Tom Petty fashion. Check out his response below:

About the Sam Smith thing. Let me say I have never had any hard feelings toward Sam.  All my years of songwriting have shown me these things can happen.  Most times you catch it before it gets out the studio door but in this case it got by.  Sam’s people were very understanding of our predicament and we easily came to an agreement.  The word lawsuit was never even said and was never my intention.  And no more was to be said about it. How it got out to the press is beyond Sam or myself.  Sam did the right thing and I have thought no more about this.  A musical accident no more no less. In these times we live in this is hardly news. I wish Sam all the best for his ongoing career. Peace and love to all.