We thought we’d seen everything when it comes to lawsuits over hip-hop samples, but this one takes the cake: Twenty years after the release of Run-DMC’s “It’s Tricky,” the Knack are suing over that “My Sharona” riff. A few thoughts: 1) It was a different world back in the Eighties when it came to clearing samples, but how could Run-DMC not have handled this by now? Hello? Russell? Lyor? 2) What kind of idiots are those Knack dudes for not noticing that sample in, um, 1986? “It’s Tricky” was a huge song. 3) Shouldn’t there be some sort of statute of limitations for this sort of thing? At this point, we have to side with Run-DMC — we don’t want to see the Knack taking money out of Jam Master Jay’s kids’ college fund. Read the full press release from the Knack:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Contact: [redacted] MY SHARONA; NOT YOURS!
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80s rock band The Knack takes on Run DMC for unauthorized sampling
Los Angeles – September 15, 2006 – Members of the 80s rock band The Knack today filed a lawsuit against the members of Run DMC, and Run DMC’s producers, distributors, publishers and record companies, over Run DMC’s use of an unlicensed sample of The Knack’s 1979 platinum hit “My Sharona” in Run DMC’s song, “It’s Tricky.”
The Knack’s Doug Fieger and Berton Averre filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Run DMC today in the United States District Court for the Central District of California. The complaint alleges that members of Run DMC and their manager, producers, publishers, and record label unlawfully appropriated portions of “My Sharona,” including the song’s signature guitar riff, for use in “It’s Tricky,” which first appeared on Run DMC’s 1986 Raising Hell album. The suit also names several companies involved in the distribution of the allegedly infringing albums. Fieger and Averre wrote “My Sharona” and obtained a copyright registration for it in 1979. The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages and attorneys’ fees.
Fieger and Averre only recently learned that Run DMC’s smash hit from the mid-80s sampled the illustrious guitar riff from The Knack’s classic “My Sharona.” “That sound is not only the essence of ‘My Sharona,’ it is one of the most recognizable sounds in rock& roll,” says Fieger, lead singer and front man of the band. Fieger and Averre are seeking damages for the alleged unauthorized use of “My Sharona” in numerous Run DMC albums that contain the song “It’s Tricky,” including albums released as far back as 1986. According to the complaint, each of the allegedly infringing albums containing the song “It’s Tricky” are still being sold and distributed.
Fieger’s and Averre’s attorney, Dick Schultz of Schwartz Cooper Chartered in Chicago, said, “Our clients created a unique and distinctive musical composition in ‘My Sharona.’ Others shouldn’t be allowed to profit from the unauthorized use of that creation. That is what copyright laws are for, and we are protecting our clients’ rights in their creation.”