Last week, Icelandic indie band Sigur Rós voiced their concern (via the internet) over multiple instances in which the advertising industry was using their songs without permission. Now, these songs weren’t actually the band’s, at least not entirely. Instead, they were direct melodic (and in some case, phonetic) facsimiles of tunes written by the band used when Sigur Rós refused to give the companies in question the rights to use their songs.
Now Sigur Rós, being a poor(ish) indie band and not exactly Coldplay, can’t afford to take these companies to court as artistic property theft is notoriously hard to prove, especially in a case like this. However, folk rock journeyman Tom Waits won two different lawsuits against Audi and Frito-Lay over the last decade for “sound-alikes” being used in advertising without the singer’s permission. Also, Sigur Rós is no longer alone in their fight against the ad industry, thanks to some snooping by hipster evangelists Pitchfork Media. Take, for example the above spot for Kipsta athletic equipment. Then listen to “White Winter Hymnal” by Seattle folksters Fleet Foxes:
A little too similar, no? Pitchfork also pointed out an ad for Alabama-based college Troy University which was a dead-ringer for Grizzly Bear’s indie rock hit “Two Weeks.” The university has since removed the ad from YouTube. Guess it got to them.
Update: A rep for Seventh Point Advertising, the company behind the Grizzly Bear-biting Troy ad, offers an explanation to Pitchfork for its yanking from YouTube.