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If Coldplay has allegedly taught us anything, it’s that you go to unlikely sources when you allegedly rip people off. So I’d say Axl Rose had allegedly taken good notes from one of the world’s biggest bands in allegedly ripping off German electro-gaze composer Ulrich Schnauss crafting “Riad N’ The Bedouins,” if Axl Rose hadn’t been working on Chinese Democracy for the better part of the past two decades. (Nothing alleged about that.) Here’s the meat of Schnauss’s claim:

Via Reuters:

Guns N’ Roses and Universal Music Group’s Interscope-Geffen A&M label were sued by British label Independiente and the U.S. arm of Domino Recording Company, who own the licensing rights to songs by German electronic musician Ulrich Schnauss.

Singer Axl Rose and Guns N’ Roses band members and album producers copied portions of two of Schnauss’ songs — “Wherever You Are” and “A Strangely Isolated Place” — for a song used on the band’s last album called “Riad N’ the Bedouins,” according to the lawsuit.

They’re only seeking $1MM in damages because only three people actually bought Chinese Democracy. We have the relevant Axl and Ulrich sound samples your intellectual property policing pleasure:

Ulrich Schnauss – “Wherever You Are”

Ulrich Schnauss – “A Strangely Isolated Place”

Guns N’ Roses – “Riad N’ The Bedouins”

GN’R manager Irving Azoff’s response (via megaplatinum.net):

“The band believed when the record came out and still believes that there are no unauthorized samples on the track. The snippets of ’ambient noise’ in question were provided by a member of the album’s production team who has assured us that these few seconds of sound were obtained legitimately. Artists these days can’t read the minds of those they collaborate with and therefore are unfortunately vulnerable to claims like this one. While the band resents the implication that they would ever use another artist’s work improperly and are assessing possible counterclaims, they are confident this situation will be satisfactorily resolved.”

Comments (28)
  1. Kurt  |   Posted on Oct 6th, 2009 0

    Yep, it’s pretty obvious.

  2. Marko  |   Posted on Oct 6th, 2009 0

    I’m confused. I don’t see anything in this article or the Reuters article that states that Axl Rose actually denied using samples of Ulrich Schnauss.

  3. Agreed. It’s a bad headline. There’s no denial in the article.

  4. Relax baby be cool  |   Posted on Oct 6th, 2009 0

    If he’s denying it, it would be as funny as when Vanilla Ice denied about using the bassline for under pressure for his ice ice baby.

  5. Rob  |   Posted on Oct 6th, 2009 0

    Good grief. Cut-n-paste from other records and it still took that long to finish the album?

  6. I think I just became a fan of Ulrich Schnauss. But that doesnt mean i agree with their claims. I seriously dont care for the new Guns and Roses or Coldplay, but they didnt rip anyone off. Its really really really easy to come up with a chord progression or a melody that has been done. If you come up with something and it sounds good, chances are someone played it already. As a musician this is very common. Now if the song arranged the drums and the other instruments to be the same melodies, than I could see the point. And yes, Vanilla Ice did rip off David Bowie. That was incredibly obvious. These cases are touchy. Shit, that Coldplay song was allegedly made by 4 different artists.

    • I totally agree. I’m actually a big Schnauss fan, but I don’t really see the claim here. I would like to believe it because Axel is a douche, but it seems like nothing more than a minor coincidence.

    • timo  |   Posted on Oct 8th, 2009 0

      did you actually listen to the songs? i don’t think you did.

  7. tits  |   Posted on Oct 6th, 2009 0

    Is that really the cover of Chinese Democracy? All these years and we get that? oh, and the music isnt too great

  8. Thomas Wincek  |   Posted on Oct 6th, 2009 0

    Dude, it’s not just a chord progression. Listen to the beginning of Where Ever You Are again. It’s the EXACT same sound of the beginning of that GNR song… Come on. Why would Rose have come up with a sound going “we-are-we-are-we-are-we-are” in the beginning of a song called “Riad N’ The Bedouins” anyway?

  9. Thomas Wincek  |   Posted on Oct 6th, 2009 0

    So I’ve thought about it. My guess: he told some over-worked studio hand to “come up with some ambient shit” for the beginning of that song, and the person swiped the very beginning of the first two electronic songs he had on his iTunes…

  10. Ted Tedson  |   Posted on Oct 7th, 2009 0

    Wow. This is a slam-dunk case for Ulrich Schnauss. He can consider himself $1MM richer.

    • 909  |   Posted on Oct 7th, 2009 0

      except that schnauss himself won’t see much of the money, as most of it goes to the label…

  11. Slash  |   Posted on Oct 7th, 2009 0

    The Coldplay/Satriani situation is very different. That was a composed progression and melody that bore a likeness to something from another song. I also agree that was likely a coincidence, being that it’s an elementary melody and could very well have been thought of by more than one person.
    This GNR intro is an actualy audio sample pulled from another song in which Schnauss created the sample for. GNR’s statement is clearly admitting they samples it, but they thought it was cleared…which it wasn’t.
    Sad it takes that long to complete the album and Axl and his production team couldn’t have created an original sample for 8 seconds of a song? wowzers

  12. mike  |   Posted on Oct 7th, 2009 0

    what exactly is ripped? just the ambient intro?

  13. I think that most recent claims about ripping one another off are bullshit.
    From Pitchfork:
    “Try this at home: Play a guitar and sing, and odds are, now that so many of our psyches are plumb awash in multiplicities of bands, you’re going to innocently/organically “sound like” somebody else, unless you’re, I don’t know, David Thomas Broughton.”

    But in this case, Schnauss’s intro was copied and pasted directly into Riad N’ The Bedouins.

  14. ho ho  |   Posted on Oct 7th, 2009 0

    maybe they just bought the same synth? it’s not a real hard thing to do to press a key or two and sound minimal. not that im putting down ulrich, he’s proven and ish, but some old synth patches made the nosie.

    • Sinthee  |   Posted on Oct 7th, 2009 0

      In rergard to: “but some old synth patches made the nosie”
      I’m not going to bet my life on it but that doesn’t sound like an old synth preset…it’s a loop that repeats a sample of someone saying something (a small clip of a phrase) and being put through a filter that gradually darkens it up

  15. Look, give Axl a break. Chinese Democracy was a total rush job, so they simply didn’t have enough time to meticulously clear every single sample on the album. Sheesh.

  16. Thomas Wincek  |   Posted on Oct 7th, 2009 0

    I totally called that guys.

  17. Amy  |   Posted on Oct 7th, 2009 0

    Only $1Mil? GNR owes society at least $10Mil…

  18. Guns N? Roses’ Chinese Democracy was a notorious flop, and the news surrounding the album just gets worse for frontman Axl Rose. It seems the track ?Riad N? the Bedouins? borrowed portions of two songs by experimental German musician Ulrich Schnauss, and now his …

    Sarong

  19. 44  |   Posted on Oct 8th, 2009 0

    Don’t worry, i’m sure axl will let ulrich schnauss ample noevember rain for his album American Totalitarianism

  20. Chicken  |   Posted on Oct 8th, 2009 0

    Maybe Axl was inspired by Timbalandish Democracy?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rIEijimuzr8

  21. its funny. i cared so much about chinese democracy until it came out.

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