John Lewis pledges substantial charity donation after ‘ripping off folk duo’s version of song used in Christmas advert’

  • John Lewis pledged to donate to Mind and Cruse Bereavement care
  • It was accused of ripping of folk duo The Portraits in this year’s Christmas advert 
  • The musicians claimed that the version of Electric Dreams was similar to theirs
  • John Lewis denies plagiarism but agreed to make ‘substantial’ charity donations

John Following being accused by a folk group of using a version of its song in its Christmas advertisement, Lewis has promised to give a large donation to charity.

Following a controversy over plagiarism that threatened to ruin the holiday ad campaign, bosses at the retailer agreed not to disclose a sum.

It comes after The Portraits, a husband-and-wife duo from Somerset, won support from a Pink Floyd lawyer.

Lorraine and Jeremy Millington claim that this year’s John Lewis Campaign featured a version of 1985 hit Together in Electric Dreams. The song tells of a boy who becomes friends with an alien.

They claimed that they had emailed John Lewis’ marketing manager in March, suggesting that the song could be used as a Christmas advertisement. However, they did not receive a reply. 

After being shocked by the inclusion of a Lola Young song in the commercial, they were even more surprised to discover that it was a 20-year old version.

After being accused of copying a song from a folk band, John Lewis pledged to donate a significant amount to charity

John Lewis strenuously denies plagiarism but, after a week of talks with the band, it last night announced ‘substantial’ donations to Mind, the mental health charity, and Cruse Bereavement Care, who receive the profits from The Portraits’ version of the song.

A spokesperson said that the Portraits share similar interests in charity work and love for the song. 

“We’re happy to donate to Portraits’ selected charities.”

Andrew Gummer (a Pink Floyd barrister) offered free advice to the Portraits. He stated that he felt bad for going against John Lewis. John Lewis is a great person and I love John Lewis. They could have done better.

To raise money for Covid-19-affected families, the Portraits recorded their own version of this song featuring vocals from Ciara, their 14 year-old daughter.

Guy Protheroe was a musicologist, copyright troubleshooter, and provided an audio file that allowed the band to play both versions simultaneously.

He said, “All they need to make them match, is to move John Lewis song up one tone in pitch. A very simple adjustment.” 

John Lewis hired its own musicologist, who was “unable to find any meaningful evidence that copying has been done from The Portraits arrangement”.

“Our Electric Dreams version was authorized by our agency. They secured copyright licenses from the original publisher of the song on our behalf.” Our brand would not copy any other cover.

They plan to re-issue the single by The Portraits, featuring their own version of Ed Sheeran’s hit Photograph on the B-side.

The duo stated, “What an extraordinary outcome it would have for the single reach Christmas Number One in honour of all the people we’ve lost here in this country,”