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Judge dismisses song-theft case against U2’s The Fly

By | Published on Wednesday 31 January 2018


A US judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by a New York-based British songwriter who accused U2 of ripping off one of his tracks on their 1991 hit ‘The Fly’.

Paul Rose went legal over the alleged song theft last year, more than 25 years after the release of the U2 record, claiming that ‘The Fly’ lifted a thirteen second guitar riff from his 1989 instrumental track ‘Nae Slappin’.

Rose’s legal claim said that he had sent a demo of his track to U2’s then record label back in 1989, which he reckoned was how Bono et al had been exposed to his work. He then alleged that ‘The Fly’ copied a section of his record “virtually note-for-note”.

Calling for the case to be dismissed last summer, U2 argued that ordinary listeners would conclude that ‘The Fly’ and ‘Nae Slappin’ sounded “nothing alike”. They also questioned why it had taken Rose so long to go legal, adding “nothing about ‘The Fly’ has changed in the quarter century since it was released”.

New York District Judge Denise Cote dismissed the case yesterday. According to Reuters, she concluded that the riff Rose alleged had been ripped off was not a “sufficiently substantial” portion of ‘Nae Slappin’ to be protected by copyright. And even if it was, she reckoned a jury would conclude U2 hadn’t copied it anyway.