British crooner Sam Smith had one of the biggest hits of 2014 with his song “Stay With Me,” but more than a few people noticed that its chorus bore a passing resemblance to Tom Petty’s 1989 classic “I Won’t Back Down.” Petty appeared to take notice, as well: reports surfaced in The Sun today stating that Petty and Smith reached a settlement after Petty’s lawyers threatened legal action. As a result, Petty will now receive a percentage of the royalties from Smith’s smash hit.
According to the terms of the settlement, “Stay With Me” will now be attributed to Petty and Jeff Lynne (who co-wrote “I Won’t Back Down” on Petty’s Full Moon Fever) as well as Smith and Jimmy Napes. Petty will also receive 12.5% of the royalties earned for “Stay With Me.”
A source close to the case (via Consequence Of Sound) said that Smith didn’t try to fight the litigation once it started. “After [the similarity between the songs] was pointed out to Sam’s camp, they didn’t try to fight it and amicably dished out royalties,” the source said. “It wasn’t a deliberate thing, musicians are just inspired by other artists and Sam and his team were quick to hold up their hand when it was officially flagged.”
The decision makes Petty a player for the Grammys this year: “Stay With Me” is up for Record Of The Year at the ceremony.