Did Rascal Flatts Rip Off Pat Benatar?

‘Shadows’ of Another Song Heard in Rascal Flatts’ “No Reins.”

Videos by American Songwriter

New York songwriter D.L. Byron is suing country group Rascal Flatts, their producers, and the Disney Music Group for copyright infringement. Byron, who penned Pat Benatar’s 1982 classic “Shadows of the Night,” claims the country trio’s song “No Reins” sounds a little too similar to his own published work.

Specifically, Byron filed a federal lawsuit claiming that the first 17 seconds of Rascal Flatts’ “No Reins” borrows from the chorus of “Shadows of the Night.”

“It’s just too much, too strikingly similar,” Byron told The New York Post. “They’d have to have a tremendous lapse of memory not to realize what they were doing. It’s my contention there’s willful infringement.”

Lawyers for Rascal Flatts guitarist Joe Don Rooney have a slightly different take on the whole issue. In a series of court documents, lawyers stated that, “To the extent that ‘No Reins’ shares any similarities with the plaintiff’s alleged copyrighted work, any such similarities between the two works are the result of coincidence and/or the use of common or trite ideas.”

Byron filed the suit in August 2008, but it is just now making news as Rascal Flatts’ performance at Madison Square Garden on February 12, 2009 marks their first trip back to New York since ithe suit was filed.

A member of Rascal Flatts said in court papers that any similarities between the two songs are purely accidental.

What do you think, readers?


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  1. I doubt the writers would have done that on purpose considering the consequences. I think it was an accident. I think anyone who says anything else probably just enjoys hating on the Flatts.

  2. Well, everyone knows you can’t copyright a chord progression and that’s really all they may have done. I hear the similarity and can’t blame the guy for pursuing the lawsuit though. I think I would have as well.

    Who knows?

  3. I understand where both sides stand on this.I would be livid if this was my song and it happened to me.These days, everybody’s copying somebody,purposely or not.It’s really just a succession of notes put together.What about Kid Rock ‘s latest Lynrd Skynrd thing or Ryan Adams’ ” New York,New York “? The intro sounds like “Won’t Get Fooled Again” by The Who.What about these songs ? Were there similar issues or, was it o.k. because imitation is flattery and or it could end up being a good thing for Pat Bennatar and the songwriter and, spark some sort of revival for one or the other or both?

  4. How could they not know they were ripping off “Shadows of the Night”. That is a very well known song that most everone knows. The backing chords sound nearly exactly the same.

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