Gerry Beckley took the song "Till The Sun Comes Up Again", ran it backwards and came up with "Now Sue".

Of course, since he wrote "Till The Sun Comes Up Again", he avoids issues of authorship.

As you said, you can't really say that you wrote it.

Although the Beatles didn't write the melody, it would reasonably and fairly be credited to Lennon and McCartney.

From a legal perspective, it's "derivative work" - deriving new content from existing material.

I can't take credit for this statement - someone on this Reddit thread wrote it, making my own comment here a derivative work. wink

There in fact was a case where someone sued a songwriter for using the reverse version of his melody.

That case didn't succeed. But a case against your version of this song undoubtably would.

To establish copyright infringement, you must establish that you own a valid copyright in the work and that:

  • The work has been copied; and
  • The copy is “substantially similar” to the protectable elements of the original work.

There's no doubt that the work has been copied. It's rhythmically identical to the original melody, with the intervals exactly inverted.

So it's a copy that's substantially similar.

While The Beatles didn't compose the work, the derivative relies entirely on their creative work - none of it could exist without the source material, and the resulting material lacks anything that creatively transforms it.

It's a bit like taking a photograph of the Mona Lisa, and claiming the negative of the painting is your own creative work.

Sure, it was "transformed" - but every element of that transformed painting came from the painter, even if it's an inversion of some of those creative choices.

Since the derivative work is 100% built on a melody by Lennon and McCartney, not crediting them for the result would simply be wrong, as you'd be passing off someone else's work as your own.

-- David Cuny
My virtual singer development blog

Vocal control, you say. Never heard of it. Is that some kind of ProTools thing?