A copy is a copy if it sounds like a copy!

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  • #29690 Reply

    I think there was clear “intent” Michael. I agree with you about Lyrics and melody defining the copyright. i remember my very first meeting with an attorney and my band going over our first record deal and he said that melody and lyrics are what constitute a copyright in a musical work. I agree with the Eminem case because the “intent” was so overt. The tempo was the same, the guitar tone, the drum beat, the bass…it was just so obvious that the intent of the music producer was to get the track to sound as close to the original as possible.

    The Robin Thicke case with blurred lines was a bit grayer in my opinion. Anyone, everyone is cloning everyone these days. Look at how many I, IV, VIm, V progressions are “out there” with very similar production approaches; 4 on the floor beat, reverse piano, muted palm guitar.


    #29691 Reply
    Michael Nickolas

    Yeah, I was referring to the Blurred Lines verdict. Then Eminem copy was blatant with clear intent. I’ve listened to the original and the copy!

    I mean Blurred Lines sounds similar to Marvin Gaye, but I think everyone is influenced by the great artists of the past. Maybe this just shows more than usual on Blurred Lines. Listen close enough to any artist and you can hear where they are coming from, who they are influenced by or studied, or are inspired by. I’m thinking of the Amy Winehouse album Back to Black I think it is. She evokes the great artists and the sound of the 60’s. As soon as you hear it you can recognize that. I don’t remember reading about lawsuits there. It would be a shame if a future artist like Amy was afraid to create and release their music because of this “new” definition of a copyright.

    #29703 Reply

    The Copyright Society just shared this article about the Blurred Lines decision. It addresses some of your concerns Michael. Yes, it redfines copyright to a degree. https://abovethelaw.com/2018/03/blurred-lines-can-you-copy-a-music-genre/

    I still think there’s room to work in a genre without infringing. IMO, not everyone who uses certain elements to evoke a “sound” is going to infringe. But when you set out to write a song that sounds like something specific, like “Got to Give it Up,” you’re in different territory because you have intent.

    #29711 Reply
    Composer Of Notes

    Maybe if he hadn’t called it Eminem Esque no one would have paid attention!

    #29713 Reply
    Michael Nickolas

    Thanks for the link Michael, the author seems to agree with me :

    “the majority establishes a dangerous precedent that strikes a devastating blow to future musicians and composers everywhere.”

    Thicke’s version used a lot of Gayes’s elements, that is for sure. The tempo, the bass sound and the stylized use of the background voices. The percussion also, to a lesser extent. He probably thought he was ok, given previous definitions of a copyright being melody and lyrics only. The problem was the song made too much money.

    So I wonder, how many elements of a style will the courts allow in the future? Can we trust the courts to judge each case individually, based on intent? Actually Michael, do you know if intent was the deciding factor with the appeals court judgement or were they basing it on the similarities? I didn’t read it.

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