Two independent record labels are suing Guns n’ Roses and Universal Music Group, claiming a track off Axl Rose’s Chinese Democracy copied portions of two songs by German electronic music artist Ulrich Schnauss. According to Reuters, Independiente and Domino’s lawsuit against Gn’R says that the band’s “Riad N’ the Bedouins” used parts of Ullrich’s “Wherever You Are” and “A Strangely Isolated Place” without permission. The labels are seeking $1 million in damages.
Blabbermouth has the videos for both Schnauss tracks mentioned in the lawsuit (we’ve reposted them below), and after a few listens, it sounds like Domino and Independiente are going to have their work cut out for them in proving their case. Whereas there was a clear, though unintentional, melodic similarity between Joe Satriani’s “If I Could Fly” and Coldplay’s “Viva La Vida,” the Schnauss lawsuit focuses on 45 seconds of ambient soundscapes at the beginning of “Riad N’ the Bedouins,” before the song breaks into full guitar assault that shares no resemblance to Schnauss’ body of work.
We’re not legal experts, but unless there is some sort of documentation proving that Rose and company stole the tracks — like proof they tried to clear the sample and failed — it’s hard to imagine the million dollar fee would be awarded, as it seems like countless artists such as Boards of Canada, M83 and Fennesz could have easily filed a similar suit. Plus, half the stuff on Chinese Democracy has existed for the better part of the last decade, while the two Schnauss songs came out in 2001 and 2003, so it’d be practically impossible to determine who predated who. Rolling Stone reached out to Gn’R for comment, but hadn’t heard back at press time.
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