Feature

The plagiarism lawsuit against Guns N' Roses

Why "electronic shoegaze" artist Ulrich Schnauss is suing Axl Rose's band

Guns N' Roses' attempted comeback has hit a snag, said Tom Breihan in Pitchfork. A German "electronic shoegaze" artist—Ulrich Schnauss—is suing for $1 million, saying that Guns N' Roses "samples unlicensed chunks" of his music (listen here and here) on a track from the band's Chinese Democracy album. And "if you listen to all three songs, it's a pretty tough claim to dispute."

Schnauss and his record labels, Domino and Independiente, "are going to have their work cut out for them in proving their case," said Daniel Kreps in Rolling Stone. The Guns N' Roses song in question, Riad N' the Bedouins (listen), "shares no resemblance to Schnauss' body of work." On top of that, "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 was first.

Who cares? said Peter Kafka in All Things Digital. Musicians accuse each other of stealing all the time. But this lawsuit is more than a little ironic: Guns N' Roses "made a point of stringing up people who pirated its last album." Schnauss should have gone after GNR "last fall, when there was a biggish to-do about the album," and when the band was "siccing the federal government on bloggers" for posting unathorized samples from the album.

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