Nickelback facing copyright lawsuit for allegedly ripping off Rockstar3 minute read

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The year was 2005 and Nickelback had just come out with their new album, “Rockstar.” The song was that perfect mix of pop and rock music that helped keep them on the charts for weeks. While the music video, which featured several celebrity cameos singing along to the song was epic, it was ultimately how catchy the song was that set it apart from anything else that year.

Unfortunately for the band, a Texas judge has ruled that the band should face a copyright lawsuit for seemingly ripping the song off from another band called Snowblind Revival.  The lawsuit was filed by Kirk Johnson and claims that they recorded Rockstar and two other songs and sent 15 copies of their work to various record labels.

The theory behind all this is that Nickelback had direct access to Johnson’s version of Rockstar and used it to compose their own. Johnson even notes in his testimony that the lyrics, the tempo, the musical structure, and the themes are very similar. Chad Kroger and Nickelback however claim that while the songs are similar, it is something that the average listener can’t pick up on.

Despite that defense by Nickelback, Magistrate Judge Susan Hightower ruled that Johnson’s case does warrant a copyright trial and that he could be entitled to a decent sum of money as a result. Whether that happens or not remains to be seen, but it’s insane to think that one of the best songs of the mid-2000s was ripped off from someone else.

“Johnston has alleged facts sufficient to raise his right to relief above the speculative level, which is all that is required at the pleading stage.”

Kirk Johnston filed the lawsuit against Nickelback members Chad Kroeger, Mike Kroeger, Ryan Peake, and Daniel Adair, as well as the band’s former record label Roadrunner Records and Warner Chappell Music, Inc., and Live Nation Entertainment, Inc.  Although this is a huge victory for Johnson and a step forward for his case,  the judge admitted that it was not known whether he could produce enough substantial evidence to win the case.

Upon listening to the two different songs ourselves, it doesn’t seem like there are a whole lot of similarities between the two songs. For example, while they do loosely share some of the same themes of buying absurd things and living the rockstar lifestyle, they approach it in vastly different ways. There might even be an argument made that it was Nickelback’s approach to the song that set it apart.

Think about it! Snowblind Revival’s version sounds more acoustic and doesn’t have that catchy chorus that Nickelback’s had. Now, did they maybe get some similar ideas from the song? A case might be able to be made on that basis, but the songs just sound too different past that. It almost seems like a case of Johnson having sour grapes about his song not making it to the heights that Nickeback’s Rockstar did.

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