September 16, 2009 10:16 PM

LITIGATION DAILY: Don't Panic: Coldplay Out of Trouble as Band Settles Guitar God's Copyright Suit

Posted by Ross Todd

This story was originally published by The Am Law Litigation Daily.

When news broke Wednesday that guitar virtuoso Joe Satriani's copyright suit against the band Coldplay had been settled, the Litigation Daily raced to Pacer to download the documents. After all, it's not every day that a copyright dispute between an aging guitar god and one of the biggest rock bands on the planet settles. (Granted, it's a bit of a stretch to call Coldplay a "rock" band.) But it turns out that the settlement is as opaque as a Coldplay lyrics sheet.

Satriani filed suit in December 2008, alleging that Coldplay's monster hit of 2008, "Viva La Vida," ripped off "substantial, original portions" of his 2004 song "If I Could Fly." (To compare the two, scroll to the bottom of this post.)

On Monday, Los Angeles federal district court judge Dean Pregerson issued an order dismissing Satriani's suit. We were hard-pressed, however, to find details of the settlement between Satriani and the band in the judge's one-page filing. The only nugget: Each side will cover its own costs and attorneys' fees.

Lawyers on both sides of the case were equally unilluminating. "All I can say is that the case has been dismissed," said Coldplay's lawyer, Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp partner David Steinberg. And from Satriani's lawyer, Howard King at King, Holmes, Paterno & Berliner, we got this: "Let me look at my piece of paper. No comment. The complaint has been dismissed."

The folks at offer up a possible reason for everyone's hesitance to talk about the settlement. Yusuf Islam, the artist formerly known as Cat Stevens, contends that "Viva La Vida" resembles his 1973 song "Foreigner Suite." He's also reportedly contemplating a copyright suit against Coldplay, but when asked about his plans, Islam told Rolling Stone, "It depends on how well Satriani does."

Looks like neither Satriani nor Coldplay are in a rush to fill Islam--or us--in on that question.

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