Multi-platinum musician, Meat Loaf, successfully flew out of the frying pan and into a settlement over a copyright dispute involving his hit song, “I’d Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That).”
Back in 2017, Enclosed Music LLC filed a copyright lawsuit in California, alleging Meat Loaf ripped off “[I’d Do] Anything for You” by Jon Dunmore Sinclair, whose catalog Enclosed owns. The song in question received tremendous accolades and success during its release in 1993; commercially, the album sold more than 14 million copies around the world.
Per the song’s credits, another defendant – James Richard Steinman – was named as the song’s composer. According to the original complaint, this fact was key: at the time Sinclair sought copyright registration for “[I’d Do] Anything for You,” both he and Steinman were represented by the same attorney. As a result, the suit claims Steinman had direct access to the original song prior to his own composition.
Pursuant to the lawsuit, the crux of the issue was focused on the “substantial similarity” question. Put simply, the substantial similarity test ultimately says that while a creative work may be heavily influenced by other copyright material,the new work may not be so substantially similar to the protected piece that it violates the copyright owner’s intellectual property rights.
As a result, the substantial similarity analysis boils down to a heavily fact-intensive inquiry. As seen in this case, Enclosed Music claims the direct access to the Sinclair song solidifies their claim that the two songs are substantially similar, while Meat Loaf’s response is predictably that the songs are almost nothing alike, save for the line “I would do anything for.” As a brief aside, this line would be largely unprotectable as a matter of law – there is nothing substantially unique found in this line, and it has appeared in countless other musical works throughout time.
Ultimately, the suit got revved up with no place to go, as the two parties agreed in February to a settlement in principle. Indeed, per the stipulation of dismissal filed last week, this settlement finally came to fruition.