Chris Daughtry is being sued.

He, and the songwriters of the Daughtry single “Feels Like Tonight” are being sued for copyright infringement by Randy Mazick of the band Asphalt. Apple and Sony are also named in the case.

At issue is the single “Feels Like Tonight” which Mazick claims is a rip off of his 2005 tune “Tonight”.

I’ve got both videos here. What do you think?

The first line of the chorus of “Feels Like Tonight” is nearly identical–both the lyrics and melody–to Asphalt’s “Tonight”. One line out of entire song doesn’t seem like much, but that one line is the “hook” of the song–the thing that grabs the listener. One could argue that the hook is the most important element of a pop song–rip off the hook, then you’ve ripped off the song.

I don’t know what the precedent is in these sorts of legal cases, so I won’t speculate on how this will turn out.

Post your thoughts in comments.

Thanks Hazhel…

Watch the videos for “Feels Like Tonight” and “Tonight” after the Jump…

Asphalt – “Tonight”

Daughtry – “Feels Like Tonight”

I couldn’t find an embeddable video of Daughtry. The official video is HERE.

 
  • Lisa

    I would say Aspahlt is going to be getting some money yes just from that one phrase. Not only do they both say *feels like tonight* but they sing it with almost the exact same music and phrasing. Sony is going to be giving some money up over this.

  • Trina

    Oh crap. I was prepared to laugh this off and defend Daughtry until I actually listened to the Asphalt video. :ohmy_tb:

  • Patchchat

    Roh roh…

    That’s pretty close…

    I don’t know how much of a song has to be compromised before it’s considered infringed upon.

    I mean…does one near-exact line in terms of tune and exact wording in a chorus make the case? The similarity in title? Or does more of the song have to be absconded?

    Hmmm…

    Side note: That Asphalt guy is awfully pitchy.

  • tinawina

    OOOOOoooooooooooohhhh… not good. Yikes. Dude, just pay them and get it over with. LOL.

  • Joanna

    I have to agree…that phrase is the same. Also, that guy sings about as well as actual asphalt.

  • Dr. Tracey

    That one line does sound almost the same, except for the singing, Chris D. sounds WAY better than the other guy LOL

  • carson

    Just for the record, and because this detail seems to be continuously left out of this on-going story, “Feels Like Tonight” is one of two songs on the Daughtry CD that Chris D. did NOT write or co-write. Martin Sandberg, Lukasz Gottwald and Shep Solomon are the writers. I think your intro “He and the other writers” is a bit misleading.

  • Fender

    The similarity in title is nothing – titles can’t be copyrighted. But that line is BIG trouble for Daughtry. There is no set amount of copied music that costitutes infringement – it can be as little as one note (not that a lawsuit for one note would ever hold up, but you get the picture). So, yes, that line is certainly enough for infringement. The fact that the melody is so similar is probably the biggest issue, but it certainly is not looking good.

    In this case the law is not on Daughtry’s side. I can’t imagine this case not being settled though – copyright cases are so expensive to defend. A lot of times, artists will just settle the case even when they didn’t violate the copyright.

    I don’t know why they sued Sony, and especially Apple. The issue lies with the writers and the publisher. Naming those other people is just silly.

  • Fender

    I just read one of the other links – it sounds like the Asphalt writer didn’t register his copyright until this past April. That doesn’t nullify his case, of course, but it definitely adds some more shades of gray.

  • MOMster

    I think that would be a tough one to prove any damage was done, even if it was ripped off – it’s just not that similar in my eyes (or ears.)

  • http://myspace.com/girlgeek mj

    I think your intro à ¢Ã¢â€š ¬Ã…“He and the other writersà ¢Ã¢â€š ¬  is a bit misleading.

    It is misleading. I’ll change it.

  • ptslittlecomment

    MJ, I actually prefer the video that doesn’t feature Daughtry (lyrics only) . I try not to base anything on appearances, but lets just say I much prefer Daughtry’s voice to his looks! I also think whoever wrote FLT might be in trouble. I could see the bandmembers being named in the suit because they sang it . . but Apple?

  • neonorange

    One line is enough – Bob Dylan sued Hootie and the Blowfish over the line “tangeled up in blue” and won. If the phrasing wasn’t exactly the same, I think Daughtry would be okay but it’s exactly the same. I can’t imagine how that’s a coincidence.

    On a side note, I always thought that Used To had similar backmusic as Fort Minor’s Where’d you go

    But perhaps listening to too much pop is finally turning my brain to mush and everything is starting to sound the same – heh.

  • Trina

    Isn’t this the song that was originally supposed to be Chris’ coronation song if he won? I know there’s a story out there (I think Chris Sligh may have said it) that it was also intended for Taylor..or am I hallucinating?

  • JJ123

    I am a HUGE Daughtry fan and have been following his career closely since AI. This lawsuit was brought up quite a while ago…maybe more than a year or so? The original suit named the writers, then the list got longer. Obviously they’re going to throw the big name performer in there to get the press. When this first came up there were some live versions of the song that were on youtube that are no longer there….hmmm….interesting! Those versions were very different than the one they shot the video for. It looks like the video was shot much later so I personally think some adjustments were made on their part otherwise why would those previous versions be gone now? I guess it took naming Apple to get the whole thing really recognized but it’s completely absurd to name them….if distributing the song is an issue then I guess we should expect every retail and online outlet to start getting named as well. The Asphalt singer is awful and the band pretty much sucks (IMO) so they’re doing anything they can to get their 15 minutes….BLAH!

  • gingerly

    I think they sued everybody remotely involved in the hopes of getting more money.

  • IGetCranked

    I have to agreeà ¢Ã¢â€š ¬ ¦that phrase is the same. Also, that guy sings about as well as actual asphalt.

    Bahahahaa!

    This will be interesting to watch as it is not clear cut on some angles.

    Trina, I never heard those stories! I’m intrigued!

  • Lisa

    Chris did put it on his cd even though he did not write it. He made money off of it. In the end, if Asphalt wins, Chris will have to pay up too.

  • JJ123

    Yes I believe there was an interview with Chris that said Feels Like Tonight was to be his AI song, I don’t know anything about it possibly being Taylor’s though.

  • BootStar

    I must be from a different planet, but I don’t think the tune sounds exactly the same on that line. Can somebody tell us what notes are being sung on each song?

    The lyric itself is identical, but it’s hardly original. I just listened to a OneRepublic song today where they used the lyric “All I need is the air I breathe,” which sounds an awful lot like the old “All I need is the air that I breathe” lyric from the Hollies.

    A lot of Daughtry songs sound like other songs to me, but not that one.

    And that video. Was that Jesus I saw?? I’m sorry, that was just weird.

  • carson

    This lawsuit was brought up quite a while agoà ¢Ã¢â€š ¬ ¦maybe more than a year or so?

    It has been going for awhile… this sounds like a second attempt though, and now they’ve thrown in Sony and Apple. Somewhere in between one of the songwriters ( Luckasz Gottwald — “Dr. Luke” of Kelly Clarkson’s “SUBG”) sued Asphalt for defamation of character.

    It is misleading. Ià ¢Ã¢â€š ¬Ã¢â€ž ¢ll change it.

    Thanks MJ.

  • ggdoorsfan

    ASPHALT JESUS!! BY JOVE IT IS!!! ROFLMAO!!!!! :lol_tb: And that lead singer SUX!!!

  • ShabbyChic

    I have heard numerous times that Feels Like Tonight was an AI coronation song, and yes…I heard it was originally meant for Taylor. Chris did not have a hand in writing the song, the PTB handed him the song. It is one of two songs on the CD that Chris does not have writing or co-writing credit for. The main writer of the song has had other similar cases against him, including a song sung by Avril Lavigne. The writer of this song has also written songs for Kelly Clarkson. I think the title of this post is still very, very misleading.

  • ianamy

    Shouldn’t Sony the label be sued? They produced the album after all.

    I hope Chris is not paying too much for this out of his own pocket.

  • http://www.myspace.com/gwendolyndiane GwendolynD

    What do you think?

    Ummmm…wow? :eek_wp:

  • bluejeans

    I’m not a Daughtry fan, but I don’t think that line sounds similar at all. Only the (incredibly generic) lyrics. Anybody can write these words “and it feels like tonight”. *roll eyes* It’s not the same as “tangled up in blue”.

  • http://myspace.com/girlgeek mj

    I must be from a different planet, but I don’t think the tune sounds exactly the same on that line. Can somebody tell us what notes are being sung on each song?

    Like I said, I don’t know what the precedent is in these cases. The song as a whole is vaguely similar, but that one line sounds–while not exactly the same–I think it sounds nearly the same–the notes the phrasing etc. And since that line is the hook of the song…it may hold more weight than if it were some other random line in the song. But I don’t now how these things work legally.

  • JJ123

    I’m curious to the fact the copyright came AFTER the release of the Daughtry CD…how does that important factoid figure into the lawsuit? I have been trying and trying but still can’t find any videos of this song that were recorded prior to 2006. I know this is just my word of mouth here but I did hear an early version and the phrasing was completely different than this current video…maybe Dr. Luke as more grounds for a countersue if they ripped off his phrasing….haha!!

  • http://myspace.com/girlgeek mj

    I think the title of this post is still very, very misleading.

    He recorded the song and is making money off it, so he’s responsible. Also, it’s a question, not a statement of fact. So, sorry, I won’t be changing the headline.

  • maturin

    Hmmmmm . . .

    I have only the most mild interest in Daughtry, but StupidLawsuitTricks interest/annoy me.

    “Feels like tonight” as a phrase is so completely generic that it must occur in hundreds songs. It’s almost like “one note” example above. There’s no legal limit to how short a lyrical phrase you can claim, in theory, but if your 3 word phrase is so clunkingly obvious (e.g. “feels so right,” “we’re in heaven” etc.) that hundreds of songwriters independently reach the same solution, I wonder how you prove that you got there first? In technology patent law, you’re supposed to have to show “non-obviousness”–is there an equivalent for copyright on creative works?

    The other weird thing: Asphalt is so completely bad and amateurish in this video that’s it’s difficult (though obviously not impossible) to think of a plausible scenario where any one outside their immediate circle of family and girlfriends would ever have heard them.

    Obviously this video was posted long after Daughtry’s record was produced, and it’s said above that they filed for copyright later as well. Is it enough to claim “someone could have heard us in a bar or on some older video that doesn’t exist any more”? Or would they have to document that there was some sort of likely opportunity for anyone connected to Daughtry’s songs to have heard their music?

    In all honesty, it seems most likely that there’s no connection between the recordings, but the band is hoping the accidental resemblance of that line is enough to win at least a “go away” payment.

  • JJ123

    Okay, just my thoughts….but in the music biz there are singers and songwriters….once a song gets handed to a singer are they responsible to then research every possible avenue to enusre the authenticity of the song or should the responsibility lie with the writer? I mean if that’s the case then songs will take forever to get recorded to make sure that some hack band in the middle of nowhere didn’t actual write it….

  • ShabbyChic

    Good post JJ123. I’m sure Chris, fresh off of AI and recording his first label album, trusted TPTB when they handed him the song and told him to sing it. In answer to the question above “What do you think?”, I say “NO, Daughtry did not rip off Asphalt”. The question is, did Dr. Luke?

  • http://myspace.com/susanatfox sumidol

    First of all may I say that Asphalt suxxxxx! That singer is horrible. I dont think that sounds anything like Daughtry’s – it is like they grabbed on to the title and ran with it crying lawsuit, adding on this name and that throughout the past year trying to get some recognition. Wow is right

    123 I also agree with you, especially in regards to Chris. He was pretty much brand new to all of this when he won, oh wait, he didnt win. He was a babe in the woods that did really good so I dont think Chris should be blamed for this, not at all

  • baxter

    Well actually precedent has been established several times in the past regarding this type of Copyright issue. A copyright case can be based on as little as 5 notes in a song. I have not listened to either song to make my own opinion, but I am curious about the copyright date for the original song. One of the reasons many reality based shows do not permit a songwriter/singer to sing their own music ( ie: AI) is because of this very issue. Either the song has not be Copyrighted or the song can not be vetted in time to establish that no infringement takes place. It is safer to use previously copyrighted material.

    This is one area of law that you DO NOT want to mess with. The law is heavily on the owners side and can cost a person(s) HUGE money if copyright enfringment is found. Not only do you have to consider the number of cd’s /downloads sold in the past, but future sales as well. One other aspect is the live performance of this song. Without permission from the songwriter, fines can be handed down on a per-performance basis. Now I say CAN, not that it will happen, but it is possible.

  • elisad

    I don’t think they’re similar, but I’m very bad at this… This song is not that good anyway, so whatever.

  • JJ123

    I’m in a rush so I don’t have time to find a more reliable source but HERE it says that Avril and Dr. Luke were exonerated from their similar lawsuit after a settlement was reached. I only posted this because of the similarities and the fact that it’s the same songwriter.

  • http://myspace.com/girlgeek mj

    The guys from the band the Rubinoos were the ones who sued Dr. Luke. The song is called “I Want to Be Your Boyfriend” and I actually remember that song when it was released a million years ago.

  • Sarah

    Didn’t even George Harrison get in trouble years ago over the My Sweet Lord tune vis a vis the Shirelles’ He’s So Fine? Don’t remember what the outcome was, but this kind of thing rears its head every so often; could be that writers subconsciously imprint a melody or a lyric, then re-use it inadvertently. Or I’m naive.

  • http://myspace.com/girlgeek mj

    Didn’t even George Harrison get in trouble years ago over the My Sweet Lord tune vis a vis the Shirelles’ He’s So Fine? Don’t remember what the outcome was,

    It went to trial, George Harrison lost and had to pay up. He was quite bitter about it and even wrote a song about it.

    The two songs have some similar sounding chord progressions, but I don’t really find them to be that similar.

  • wjmtv

    The opening guitar chords of the Daughtry/Asphalt songs also sound identical–at least to me.

    P.S. Mein gott, that Asphalt singerdude is terrible.

  • smartcookie

    In terms of written material (books, etc.) the test is “substantial similarity,” meaning you need much more than one similar phrase, especially if the similar phrase is something obvious or trite or that a million people could come up with without having even heard of each other. They want it to be something that the second person could not possibly have created without having the first person’s copyrighted material at their elbow. Seriously. That’s legal language. And that means that person #1 does have to show that person #2 might’ve or could’ve had access to the copyrighted material. So if there was no published work, no evidence that anybody involved with the second piece of material could’ve seen the first one, that takes away from the case as well.

    The reality in publishing is that they don’t want to start lawsuits, no matter how spurious, because they don’t want to be sued themselves. But you still see people like that woman who wrote about a teen wizard named Larry Porter or something and sued J.K. Rowling. She did not win.

    I don’t believe that whoever kept suing Michael Jackson for supposedly stealing a song got anywhere, either.

    I don’t honestly know the case history in music infringement cases, but in publishing, your work is considered copyrighted as soon as type it, basically. You are entitled to more and more specific damages if you’ve filed the official copyright papers, but you can still have a copyright even if you didn’t.

    Who can be sued and whose responsibility it is to check to make sure there are no copyright issues is generally worked out in the contract. So many authors have to assert that they wrote the work themselves and there are no problems with it, and that they will personally defend any possible copyright actions, when they sign their contracts. (See: Harvard girl who ripped off Megan McCafferty, the whole Cassie Edwards mess, Janet Daily ripping off Nora Roberts, etc.)

  • http://youtube.com/user/ConcertCameraCat Sparkles

    So let me get this straight, Daughtry has a CD? And when you say he “ripped off asphalt” you don’t mean that he’s working construction? Looks like I have some catching up to do on past Idol contestants. For all I know, one may have been dropped by his label & canceled his tour, one may be touring in “Grease” and one may have artificially inseminated some broad. Nah, that’s too far fetched & ridiculous, even for those in Idol land.

  • cruzceleste

    So let me get this straight, Daughtry has a CD? And when you say he à ¢Ã¢â€š ¬Ã…“ripped off asphaltà ¢Ã¢â€š ¬  you donà ¢Ã¢â€š ¬Ã¢â€ž ¢t mean that heà ¢Ã¢â€š ¬Ã¢â€ž ¢s working construction? Looks like I have some catching up to do on past Idol contestants. For all I know, one may have been dropped by his label & canceled his tour, one may be touring in à ¢Ã¢â€š ¬Ã…“Greaseà ¢Ã¢â€š ¬  and one may have artificially inseminated some broad. Nah, thatà ¢Ã¢â€š ¬Ã¢â€ž ¢s too far fetched & ridiculous, even for those in Idol land.

    :lol_tb: :lol_tb: :lol_tb:

  • http://www.myspace.com/gundomom CarieB

    Well, if you ask me, The Asphalts should be renamed the Asshats after watching that video piece of crap. Yes, the hook has the same words and phrasing, so maybe somebody borrowed from the original in some subliminal, subconscious way, but there ends the similarities. The songs are so completely different to me, they are not even comparable except they share that hook (defers to MJ who is probably right that hook means more than a random lyric)

    That’s not to say in this llitigious world they won’t be able to extract some money from the labels and even Chris himself, but were the asshats ripped off? I personally don’t think so.

  • waffle

    They don’t sound the same to me, too, and would not have confused one song for the other. I’m not a music buff, though, just a casual listener, so I’m not in the habit of analyzing these things. At any rate, I’m thinking that for the case to prosper, Asphalt has to prove its sales of “Tonight” were affected by, or that it lost potential buyers because of, Daughtry’s release of “Feels Like Tonight”. Wonder if Asphalt will be able to do that.

  • Hazehel

    When this first came up there were some live versions of the song that were on youtube that are no longer thereà ¢Ã¢â€š ¬ ¦.hmmmà ¢Ã¢â€š ¬ ¦.interesting! Those versions were very different than the one they shot the video for. It looks like the video was shot much later so I personally think some adjustments were made on their part otherwise why would those previous versions be gone now?

    The more we hear about this, the less there appears to be any case for Daughtry to answer. The Asphalt claimed to have written and performed the song in 2005 before the release of Daughtry’s album, but only registered the song this year. If, as you said, the song sounded different in their live performance to the YouTube video above, then they may very well have changed the melody to the line “feels like tonight” after hearing daughtry’s version. Unless they can produce a tangible record of the song same as the one shown in the video that can be dated prior to Daughtry’s release, then I don’t see how they can claim violation of copyright. I tried searching the original version of the song in many places where you might find obscure songs and failed to find it anywhere. Let’s hope that someone might have saved a copy of their older live performance so we can make a true comparison.

  • CRB

    yes, it’s a rip off. The problem for Asphalt is Chris has the money behind him.

  • http://myspace.com/susanatfox sumidol

    I say thank goodness Chris and the others have money behind them because as I see it Asphalt’s only problem is they look AND sound horrible. From what all I have read above and elsewhere it seems that they manipulated this song, after the fact, to create fortune and fame off of Chris’s coattails. It is a lousy way to try to get the money that is behind Chris

  • http://myspace.com/saltwatercures pj

    Well, crap. The first video is no longer available, so I can’t listen.

    However, music copyright is a very murky area from what I understand. I remember hearing Jet’s “Ar Yeou Going to Be My Girl” and thinking the beat was identical to Iggy Pop’s “Lust for Life.” I don’t remember Iggy getting all bent out of shape about it, though. At what point is it infringement rather than building on music that came before?

    Wouldn’t Asphalt have to prove that the writers actually had access to their song in order to infringe on their rights?? Also, I’m not sure they would have a case against Chris himself if he received no writer royalties on the song. Seems to me that if they have a case, they would be awarded damages out of the royalties received from the songwriters. I’m by no means an expert, but that seems like common sense to me.

    Wish I could listen. Oh, well.

  • Lisa

    Hmmm it has been pulled from youtube.

  • Hazehel

    Not sure why that one was pulled, but they have put up another one, perhaps they just want one with better quality -

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JPSj_oTaur8

    Another one here -
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8SlViXmOR78

    I should emphasise that we don’t know if they recorded this before Daughtry.

  • http://myspace.com/saltwatercures pj

    Thanks, Hazehel.

    After hearing them, they DO sound similar, especially the hook. However, the song is sooo generic that it’s not a stretch to think more than one person could come up with that hook or those lyrics. I’ve never heard lyrics being too much of a consideration in music copyright, but I’m no expert.

    IF, they don’t have a recorded version pre-Daughtry (as some have suggested), then it will be a harder case for them.

    Any copyright wonks among us? I’d love an expert opinion.

    My guess is that they’ll settle and it’ll be more money than Asphalt will ever make. Good job guys. :drunk_tb:

  • http://inkdbylilyanna.com carolina

    Some little birdie said today, goooo toooo mj’ssssss, they’re posting the little “d” word.

    I read about little d’s misfortune long time ago and listened to both audio’s back then and I remember thinking … seems to me little d is in for a world of hurt on this one cause they sure sounded too close for comfort.

    Thinking about it now I remember what I thought the similarity was and it was this — they both suck, imvho, although the suckage is much higher for that asphalt guy.

    I hate that little d might have to empty his wallet for a meh song. :doh_tb:

  • abbysee

    I listened to both versions of the song. The similarity exists. The song sux. Both versions. The Asphalt guy isn’t that bad, though. If the time line fits then you musn’t acquit. Somebody just might get paid!