By Paul de Revere
In entertainment law circles, it’s common practice for artists and their lawyers to defend one’s intellectual-property. So aggressively, in fact, that some acts – particularly legacy acts with a large, frequently licensed discography – have a proverbial chip on their shoulder about copyright-law protections when it applies to their music.
Who could forget the absurdity of former Metallica bassist Jason Newsted, who started his Echobrain side project in 2000, getting sued by the Dallas band Echo Drain? Yes, those band names rhyme and yes, because of their similarity, representatives from Echo Drain sued Newsted.
Unfortunately, Will Sheff of Austin, T.X. folk rock band Okkervil River has found himself in a similar predicament.
“Don Henley made me take down a cover of ‘The End of the Innocence’ that I’d had on there, which I’d rewritten – Don Henley made me take it down!” Okkervil River’s lead singer-songwriter Will Sheff told The Music.
Sheff is referring to Golden Opportunities 3, one of three mixtapes in an ongoing covers series that Okkervil River has released for free download on its website.
“I really love ‘The End of the Innocence’ sincerely, and it’s a real dick move, man,” Sheff said. “I guess he’s an old fashioned guy who doesn’t understand… I don’t really get what his issue with it was, it’s not like I was making money.”
Sheff noted that in his solo work and with Okkervil River, he’s covered other artists’ songs live and in-studio previously.
“It’s nice to be able to do [the free covers],” Sheff said. “It’s nice to be able to recontextualize the work of other people and speak with somebody else’s voice for a little bit – I think that part of it is also nice.”
He then added, “I really hate copyright law, and I really hate property when it comes to music – to me it’s a really fun opportunity to engage in that, but sometimes it pisses Don Henley off apparently.”