Blurred Lines verdict

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  • #20644 Reply
    woodsdenis
    Participant

    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/11/business/media/blurred-lines-infringed-on-marvin-gaye-copyright-jury-rules.html?partner=synthtopia&emc=synthtopia&_r=1

    Bit shocked at this one, didn’t think there was a case to answer. Similar in style but not in content.

    #20646 Reply
    MichaelL
    Participant

    Sorry Denis. Didn’t see your post earlier. Art you can delete my redundant post.

    With respect to the verdict:

    US courts look for “substantial similarity,” not detailed analysis by a musicologist. In doing so the court will apply a number of tests. One of those tests is the “ordinary observer” test. Basically if a lay person listens to the music and hears the similarities, enough to recognize the original work in the alleged infringing work, you have a problem.

    There are defenses to infringement, for example “parody.” But in that instance the parody has to comment on, criticize, or ad some layer of meaning to the original. If you want to know how that works, here’s a distilled version from the case that arose out of 2Live Crew’s alleged infringement of Roy Orbison’s Pretty Woman. https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/510/569/case.html

    I would say that 99% of the time that composers work to a temp track, or create a sound-alike, what they create is not going to fall under any of the copyright defenses.

    One of the things that courts actually look for is the attempt to make infringement not look like infringement with clumsy differences.
    In other words, changing a few notes here and there is not likely to help you. It only makes it look like you were trying to hide your infringement, which is not good, because it shows intent. (It should be noted that the court did not find intent in the Blurred Lines case)

    With respect to ‘Blurred Lines,” the title turned out to somewhat ironic in that the lines aren’t blurry enough. So while composers may be saying “we hear a lot of differences,” the average person is saying “we hear a lot of similarities,” and that unfortunately is upon what the law turns. (in the US)

    #20649 Reply
    woodsdenis
    Participant

    What on earth a jury would make of that !!!

    Over this side of the pond it was and probably still is different, I was involved in a similar case where someone claimed that a work I had co-composed was similar. A musicologist was borought is and wrote a lengthy tome on the differences and that was it. As it happened one of the co writers was rather famous so I suspect the claim was a fishing expedition more than anything else to see if there would be a settlement out of court. This particular band where very used to spurious claims and the matter was swiftly dealt with.

    #20650 Reply
    Edouardo
    Participant

    I listened to the two songs. In my opinion, this is abuse of the copyright system.

    Indeed the songs have got a very similar groove, but for me that’s about it: I think I am going to copyright the 4:4 signature… I will make tons of money šŸ˜‰

    #20651 Reply
    woodsdenis
    Participant

    Or this one

    #20653 Reply
    Edouardo
    Participant

    The First Video shared by Dennis – Amazing lol!

    #20655 Reply
    mscottweber
    Participant

    I hadn’t actually heard the Marvin Gaye song until a few months ago (does this post show my age?), but when I did I DEFINITELY thought that it was being sampled in Blurred Lines. I did’nt study them back to back (I don’t even think I could hum the melody to Got To Give It Up if I had a gun to my head), but upon casually hearing the Marvin Gay tune for the first time it sounded more than similar to Blurred Lines.

    #20656 Reply
    MichaelL
    Participant

    What on earth a jury would make of that !!!

    Ah, corporate country. A lot of songwriting in Nashville is done by a handful of writers working together in committee. Could be a case of different artists, but the same writers, rewriting their own songs.

    It’s worth noting that the US Copyright office seems to be recognizing the homogenous nature of contemporary music production. In its recently released report, which recommends some sweeping changes, I’ve been told there are provisions that might protect similar works, possibly even sound-alikes. (So… U2 rippers don’t throw away your delays until you see where the law goes!)

    But…remember those changes would only apple to US law unless other countries agree by treaty.

    Unfortunately, the media is a business in which originality is an anathema. Creative people, whether they are script writers or composers are encouraged (almost forced) to emulate or repeat what has proven successful. The law may be catching up to that reality.

    #20658 Reply
    MichaelL
    Participant

    upon casually hearing the Marvin Gay tune for the first time it sounded more than similar to Blurred Lines.

    That spark of recognition is often enough for what US courts call the “ordinary observer” test for substantial similarity.

    #20659 Reply
    guscave
    Guest

    IMO this verdict is going to open up a lot of other law suits with other songs that may have the same “feel” or “groove”.

    I spent over a year performing “Got to give it up” live and other than the groove and maybe some add lib vocals, I never heard enough similarities between the two songs to think there was some kind of copyright infringement.

    I can see the similarities on a song like Sam Smith’s “Stay with Me” and Tom Petty’s “I won’t Back Down” because the melodies are so alike, but once you start suing for copyright infringement based on grooves and feel, where do stop?

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