Muse Sued For Stealing Rock Opera

Author wants $3.5 million from band for stealing his sci-fi concept.

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In one of today's stranger news items, NME are reporting that Muse and Warner Bros. Records are facing a lawsuit from a man who claims that the band stole the concept for his sci-fi rock opera. Charles Bolfrass, who filed the lawsuit last week, is alleging that the band stole his "cinematic science-fiction rock opera", which is titled "Exogenesis", and is now seeking $3.5 million from the group in recompense.

Bolfrass claims that he contacted the band back in 2005 with ideas for a science fiction rock opera about space travel after the demise of the planet Earth, an idea which the band rejected. However, the band's 2009 album, "The Resistance", ended with a three part conceptual suite, the the tracks of which are titled "Exogenesis Parts I", "II" and "III". Bolfrass also believes that the band stole the concept for the album cover from storyboards that he had provided. He is suing Warner Music for copyright infringement, unfair trade practices and unfair competition.

Muse, meanwhile, are set to release their new album, "The 2nd Law" on October 1st. The band will also undertake a short arena tour in the UK in that month to support the album's release. Speaking to Q magazine last month, singer Matt Bellamy revealed that the band don't always take themselves too seriously:

"We don't care if people don't necessarily take songs like that 100 per cent seriously. We're not afraid of our eccentricities, we're not afraid of going into almost Monty Python rock. But it's like opera. If you put a piece of opera on, it's ridiculous unless you've listened to the whole thing and just go there with it."

Muse fans may be quick to note that, while Bolfrass's sci-fi opera does share its name with a trio of Muse songs, the concept of his project is pretty similar to the plot of the video for the band's "Sing For Absolution", which was released in 2004.

86 comments sorted by best / new / date

    I.shower.naked
    That picture.
    bonjidonk
    if they really did steal the idea from him, why would he wait three years to do anything about it?
    Strummerboy Leo
    "singer Matt Belmay " How hard is it to proof read something?
    spiff-corgi
    Might have to go back and sue them for the Sing For Absolution video too then... What a moron.
    stickman31
    This needs the title changed to "Muse SLAMMED by lawsuit" or something along that line. Cmon UG keep your headlines up to the community standards!
    HighVoltageMT
    Someone is hard up for money. Exogenesis and its subject matter isn't that different than Apocalypse Please, which came out in 2004.
    Sampy
    And it's hardly an original concept in the first place. As for the "stealing the concept for the album cover from his storyboards" surely he should be suing the artist who drew it? He hasn't got a leg to stand on.
    CollyOBrien
    The lyrics in 'Exogenesis' aren't even super specific?! Definitely about the end of the world, but so are half of their other songs, mostly all predating 2005.
    pomes
    I lost all respect for Matt when I realised that the opening synth line on Uprising is stolen straight from Billy Idol's White Wedding...
    Hookakid
    It has a few of the same notes, but it's hardly worthy of being DIRECTLY stolen from White Wedding, there's still a significant difference. They're in the same key it seems, this makes songs closer to sounding like each other when specific note sequences are played obviously. A bit of a stretch and narrow-minded to call it a straight copy. I'd also like to know where the similarity between White Wedding and Pinball Wizard lies, I hear nothing.
    Dynamight
    It's called "influence."
    dewitt
    That's the first thing I thought when I heard that song. I don't mind artistic influence or even blatant 'borrowing', but sounding like a direct copy of something else in the first few seconds probably won't give you a proper first impression, like you might hope for.
    third(-)eye
    Here's what probably happened: the author came up with the idea for a generic science fiction book about the end of the world and whatnot, but Muse saw it for what it was and snubbed (SLAMMED?) it. Later, the author's books turn out to be crap and don't sell, while Muse does what they always do and write about the end of the world. The author can't tell the difference because his stories are so generic, and decides to kill two birds with one stone and sue for millions. It's the same sob story as it is with most lawsuits of this sort.
    LightxGrenade
    If he wins this lawsuit then I'm going to sue Crayola for making those scented colored markers. I totally thought of that when I was 6 years old.
    Most_Triumphant
    "...science fiction rock opera about space travel after the demise of the planet Earth..." Boston anyone?
    thecause
    I love it when some one things they are the only person who could ever come up with an idea. I know a few people like that, I want to slap them.
    PsiGuy60
    The premise of "Space travel after the demise of planet Earth" seems hardly new even in rock operas. This lawsuit is pretty much baseless.
    Trisomy21
    Muse has done many sci-fi, spacey things long before. Just keeping with the tradition.
    JAEX370
    they deserve it for saying dubstep is the new heavy metal.
    Floyd Phoenix
    Oddly enough, I've had ideas for concept albums that I've had to dismiss because Muse suddenly bring it out soon after I've thought of it.... Bellamy recorded his babys heartbeat whilst his wife was in labour. I'd be surprised if he didn't do other stuff just for music either...
    ljpfahey
    The concept is pretty similar to a hell of a lot of sci fi concepts lol I don't think you could patent that basic plot.
    Smegal
    I could point out rock opera is not new. Sci-fi rock opera is a genre and thus cannot be copyrighted in any way shape or form. That would be like Metallica claiming ownership of metal, and suing every metal band that ever existed... If someone is trying to claim they took his idea and thus can't use it, they are sorely mistaken. Legalities states an idea cannot be copyrighted anyway. If you share an idea they are under no obligation to give you anythi8ng if they use it. If in some strange event he did win the only result would be the loss of use of a genre and stifling of creativity amongst musicians.
    JohnnyApplecore
    You need to develop your critical reading skills, mate. He's filing a lawsuit because they explicitly used an idea that he created, and did not give him credit. Not because they created a rock opera. Because they stole his concept idea, title, and artwork which were all meant to be used FOR a rock opera. He's well within his rights to sue them if he can prove he created it first. The question is, why - if their version was released in 2009 - is he only just now deciding to file suit?
    RockerMan206
    i was thinking the same! also he decided to do it just days before the release of the new album.
    MthrfknBrkdwN
    Metallica didn't invent metal.
    ShevanelFlip
    Did he say metallica invented metal? learn to read.
    MthrfknBrkdwN
    Re-reading it, probably not but he suggested it.
    kozmo4200
    its an analogy sir.
    MthrfknBrkdwN
    And...?
    miahdoll
    And, everybody else knows what he meant but you, hmmm, idiot!
    Astralmoses
    If you've actually had a musical idea stolen from you, you would understand why 3.5 million is a reasonable figure for a band like this.
    HighVoltageMT
    No. Not only is the 3.5 million figure ridiculous, but the whole case is an obvious plea for money.
    ne14t
    Too many people obviously have know idea about creative differences and creative rights here, if any of you plan to become musicians you better learn about both so you yourself don't end up getting screwed over. If this guy approached Muse with is Rock Opera provided songs, storyboards, info and all that and they dismissed it only to later (4 years later) put out a similar project, the plaintiff does have a lot of ground to go on especially if anything Muse used is remotely similar to what he had originally created and shared with them. Just because he showed them his idea doesn't mean they had any creative rights to it. Oh yeah this has absolutely nothing to do with patents at all either.
    Smegal
    The problem with your arguement is that you are by definition assuming that he had more than an idea. You cannot copyright an idea without a prototype project which has already been patented. If after 4 years he did nothing with his "Concept" he was never going to.
    thebigredjj10
    So because someone comes to you with a concept they have, that's a pretty common concept, that means you can never write something similar? Even if you had thought of something similar before, you still have to avoid the subject? Maybe his idea influenced the original idea, but that doesn't mean they owe him anything for coming up with their own idea.
    Scorpyin
    "Hey man, I invented singing about satan so half of every black and death metal band owes me millions!!" Would you honestly not call that man retarded?
    gibsongalore184
    The concept of a rock opera is most definitely NOT new. They are getting popular though, such as the rock musical Next to Normal. The whole lawsuit is nearly mentally retarded. I mean seriously.
    M3AK
    If this guy handed any of this material over to a lawyer who had it dated and the material matches Muse's subject matter in these songs he has a lot of ground to stand on in terms of intellectual property (this includes the project title). However, this will also require all the material to have existed before it being shown to the band and everything dated by the lawyer to match the material he sent Muse. This is slightly more than "he stole my riff" and its perfectly reasonable to believe he might win this case. If it turns out they did steal it I hope he gets his money...but I hope they didn't.
    MrCheezus
    When most of your songs sound like Wagnerian epic shit storms, someone's bound to sue you.