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Beach Boys are not suing Katy Perry

August 8, 2010

Media outlets are getting overly excited about the legal posturing between Rondor Music and Capital Records over similarities between Katy Perry’s song, “California Gurls,” and the Beach Boys’ correctly spelled classic by the same name.  The Beach Boys’ label, Rondor, filed a “diminutive claim” against Perry’s label, seeking royalties and credit.  A couple of top headlines from a Google News search:

“Beach Boys threaten Katy Perry over ‘California Gurls’? No lawsuit Just Yet.”CBS News

“Beach Boys versus ‘California Gurls’ in Court?”Time

It’s a good rule of thumb is to be skeptical of every news story containing a question mark in the headline, a deceptive technique Jon Stewart once dubbed “The Cavuto” after it’s serial use by Fox News anchor Neil Cavuto.

Example of "The Cavuto"

It’s troubling that media outlets would imply that the Beach Boys themselves are up in arms over Perry’s song.  Nothing could be further from the truth, and the Beach Boys have been vocal in distancing themselves from the spat.  A spokesman for Mike Love said that any action was entirely up to Rondor, and both Love and Brian Wilson have said that they like Perry’s record.

As to the substance of the complaint, no one with a functional set of ears could confuse the two songs for one another.  According to Rondor, Snoop Dogg’s single utterance of the line “I really wish you all could be California girls” constitutes copyright infringement.  Here are the two songs in question.  What do you think?  Does Rondor have a point?

Beach Boys – California Girls

Katy Perry feat. Snoop Dogg – California Gurls

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