Just like that, but different
Chances are you’ve heard of Sigur Ros – the iconic Icelandic band.
And even if you haven’t, then you’ve almost certainly heard “Hoppipolla” – their famous hit that was used extensively in a BBC promo for Planet Earth.
The BBC were able to use the track because of the unique blanket agreements that the BBC has with two UK Performing Rights Organisations, PRS and PPL.
But unlike the BBC, advertisers can’t access these blanket agreements – they need to clear ALL licensed music on a title-by-title basis.
Unsurprisingly, Hoppipolla has been hot property since its release back in 2005, with a lot of ad agencies keen to use it in brand campaigns.
Sigur Ros weren’t having any of it, denying all requests.
But as you’re probably aware, agencies don’t like hearing “no”, and in the case of Hoppipolla has led to a number of “copycat” versions of the song that were quite clearly (at the very least) “inspired” by the Sigur Ros track.
These copycat versions are known as “sound-a-likes”.
Legally, they’re highly dangerous.
Morally, they’re very questionable.
It’s happened with Sigur Ros tracks so frequently that the band have published the worst offenders online – check them out in the links below:
And it’s not just Sigur Ros – something similar happened with Eminem and the NZ National Party too - https://www.theguardian.com/music/2017/oct/25/eminem-wins-600000-after-new-zealand-political-party-breached-his-copyright
The moral of the story: If you want to use a specific track but can’t get permission, do NOT attempt to copy it.
Doing so will almost certainly upset the songwriter, their publisher and the artist’s fans.
And that’s the least of your worries - it’s also likely to lead to expensive litigation, reputational damage and take down notices. All of this is bad for the brand and the bank balance, so just do yourself a favour and find an alternative track.