Sam Smith's 'Stay With Me' Under Attack from Another '80s Songwriter...Plaintiff Wants Grammy
Sam Smith's hit "Stay With Me" is under a new bit of legal pressure as another songwriter has come forward claiming that Smith and his songwriting team stole inspiration. Mark Halper (not the famous Hollywood photographer) claims that during his song "Don't Throw Our Love Away" from 1986, he opens with the phrase "stay with me," which he refers to as a "significant phrase" (from NME).
Smith has been in the headlines already for similarities to his biggest hit, notably the comparisons made between "Stay With Me" and Tom Petty's "I Won't Back Down," which share a melody. The rock musician was less than aggressive regarding the issue, noting that it was clearly a "musical accident" and that Smith had not intended harm. No lawsuit was filed and the issue was settled out of court, with Petty and fellow songwriter Jeff Lynne both receiving 12.5 percent shares of the songwriting credit.
Halper hasn't listed a dollar figure, but he has asked for a Grammy for his work (according to TMZ), considering the four that Smith won at this year's ceremony, both for "Stay With Me" and his album In The Lonely Hour.
Smith, however, is not one of the defendants in the case. Instead, the songwriter is going against record labels such as Capitol, who of course have much more money to award Halver if he wins. His winning is a strictly theoretical concept at the moment however, as he's got several things working against him. The first of which is that no one knows the song "Don't Throw Our Love Away." Despite our best efforts, the song couldn't be found on Spotify or even YouTube...a good indication that absolutely no one is looking for it. That doesn't negate claims of copyright violations, however in artistic cases such as this, a judge is less likely to buy into claims that Smith was intentionally stealing from a fellow artist. At least in the Petty case, "I Won't Back Down" is a prominent song that Smith had probably heard at some point in his life.