Earlier this year, a songwriter sued the members of U2, claiming that the U2 song, “The Fly” from the 1991 album “Achtung Baby,” infringed the songwriter’s 1989 song “Nae Slappin.”
The plaintiff songwriter, Paul Rose, claims that he sent a demo of his song to U2’s record label, that an undisclosed witness said that the members of U2 were often in the record label offices where the demo was played, and that there are numerous similarities between the two songs, including an “elaborate and distinctive guitar solo,” the “guitar hook,” the percussion accents, and the “dimensions of sound.”
On July 18, 2017, the members of U2 moved to dismiss the case.
First noting that Rose waited over 25 years to bring the case, U2 argues that there is no substantial similarity between “The Fly” and “Nae Slappin”:
Here, listening to the songs as a whole, one after the other, makes clear that there is no substantial similarity between the two. Their “total concept and overall feel” is entirely different, as is their “aesthetic appeal.” Nae Slappin is essentially an extended guitar solo consisting mostly of multiple guitar tracks, with percussion accompaniment. There are no vocals, no lyrics, no subject, and no theme. The Fly is a different animal entirely. It is a “song” in the true sense of the word, with everything that comes with it: vocals, lyrics, a subject, and a theme. As Plaintiff himself puts it, “‘The Fly’ is a direct reference to ‘The Metamorphosis’ by Franz Kafka, in which the protagonist changes overnight from a travelling salesman into a giant insect, or fly.
U2 goes on to argue that to the extent there are any similarities between the two songs, such similarities are nothing more than generalized ideas, styles, or themes and not expression protected by copyright.
The plaintiff’s response is due August 7.
What do you think?
Here’s Paul Rose’s “Nae Slappin”:
Here’s U2’s “The Fly.”