George Harrison and Copyright Law

There is a common misconception about copyright law. It is often said that one song-writer can sample three bars or less and not infringe the other song-writer’s copyright; but this is not the case. As Alan Korn, an expert in copyright litigation says,

“in determining whether one song infringes on another, it is common for courts to look to whether the ‘heart’ of the song was taken. The heart of a song may be a memorable melody, or an identifiable 2-chord guitar riff or just a few words taken from the chorus. As a result, there is NO truth to the rumor that sampling less than 4 bars is OK.”1

The courts may also rule that infringement has occurred without proving that the infringing writer had access to the original song.

“One of the more famous U.S. music infringement cases involved ex-Beatle George Harrison, who was found by a jury to have ‘unconsciously’ copied the . . . composition ‘He’s So Fine’ in his 1971 hit ‘My Sweet Lord.'”2

Take a listen to the two songs involved in this famous lawsuit. “My Sweet Lord” was deemed to be “strikingly similar” to “He’s So Fine.” What do you think? How similar are the two songs? All of this has become suddenly very interesting to a little known band named “Key of Zed” as we consider how similar our song is to “Angel in Blue Jeans?”

(Lyrics and Music by Mike Charko and Keith Shields – SOCAN 2013)
Written March 16, 2013
Published on Thirst Website ( on April 13, 2013.
Published on ReverbNation, Key of Zed ( on April 13, 2013.
Performed at the Heritage Grill in New Westminster on June 3, 2013.
Performed at the Rusty Gull in North Vancouver on June 20, 2013.

Angel in Blue Jeans 
(Lyrics and Music © 2014 Sunken Forest (ASCAP)/EMI April Music Inc. (ASCAP) Stellar Songs Ltd. and EMI Publishing UK Ltd. (PRS). Written by Pat Monahan, Espen Lind, and Amund Bjorkland.)


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