There have been some ridiculous lawsuits involving musicians– Ozzy Osbourne being sued for allegedly influencing a teen to commit suicide because of his Satanic lyrics for example– but few cases compare to what British prog rockers Muse are facing. If you've been listening to rock radio since 2009, it's pretty likely that you've heard music from the band's album The Resistance, which after 15 years of hard work introduced them to the mainstream music listener. Alas, that's where the plot thickens.
Songwriter Charles Bollfrass (name something you've heard of his, please) has accused the band of ripping off his “cinematic science-fiction rock opera” and is seeking $3.5 million in damages from them and Warner Music. He also claims the cover of album contains an image that the band stole from the storyboards of his rock opera. The suit was filed in a federal court in Manhattan, and alleges that the album both its plot and artwork from his original creation called Exogenesis. He also claims that he pitched the rock opera to Muse and two unnamed bands in 2005.
In response, a spokesman for the band issued this statement:
“The claim is complete nonsense, and is categorically denied. It appears to be based on a 'screenplay' which the band never received or saw, produced by someone the band has never heard of. It speaks volumes that the album in question was released a full 3 years ago, and yet this is the first that has been heard of these groundless allegations.”
That's what we think as well. Unless Bollfrass has been living under a rock for the past, oh, seven years, if the band truly ripped him off, shouldn't he have said something sooner? That's what common sense would dictate and this is a blatant ploy for him to get paid. 2005 was a full four years before the album was released. Maybe timeliness isn't his thing. Thankfully and justifiable the band is standing up for themselves.
Frivolous lawsuits like these aren't only a waste of time, but a waste of band capital. Muse should be out promoting their next album,The 2nd Law, slated to be released October 2. They should be focusing their attention on that instead of having to worry about this. If the band is in the right, then they should sue Bollfrass for not only wasting their time, but it should serve as a lesson for individuals looking to profit or expecting a band to settle with them to make a case go away.
No matter how you cut it, this is going to be very difficult to prove and it's basically a “he said, he said” argument. If Bollfrass wins, expect open floodgates for wanna-bes to sue bands over random copyright infringement case. Hopefully that won't be the case.