Sounds Familiar: The Black Keys File Lawsuit Over Sound-a-likes Used in Ads

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  • #11946 Reply
    Art Munson
    Keymaster
    #11988 Reply
    MichaelL
    Participant

    Great post Art. It should be read by all.

    As the article points out, copying a general style is one thing, and knocking off a specific song is another. There’s really no bullet-proof way to knock off a specific song.

    The worst case arises when a band or composer has been approached to license a song, they refuse, and the client then hires someone to do a sound-alike. That shows intent, which is virtually a slam-dunk in court. Moreover, it ratchets up the damages significantly.

    Composers need to be aware that when they sign a contract with a library, they are stating that they are the composer of, or own the rights to, the music they are selling.

    Of course, the attorneys are going to sue the ad agency, its client and the library, as well as the composer, because they have deeper pockets. If joint and several liability applies, the plaintiff can recover from any one defendant.

    It’s a tricky road to walk. But if someone ever says to you, “we asked band “X” for their song and they turned us down” …run like the wind.

    _Michael

    #11992 Reply
    Mark Lewis
    Participant

    Yes, great post Art. Sounds like (no pun intended) libraries and composers should both take care in what they upload and approve.

    I recently ‘fired’ a composer who was basically uploading karaoke versions of really famous and current hits, intact melodies and everything, minus vocals.
    I’m old so am not familiar with current hit songs but my assistant brought it to my attention. It was strike 3 or 4 for this composer (AK) and was the last straw for me.

    My assistant and I will definitely be more vigilant in the future.

    #12007 Reply
    MichaelL
    Participant

    I recently ‘fired’ a composer who was basically uploading karaoke versions of really famous and current hits, intact melodies and everything, minus vocals.

    Unbelievable that someone would do something so stupid, yet somehow not surprising.

    I’m old so am not familiar with current hit songs but my assistant brought it to my attention.

    Ouch! I might as well buy that rocking chair now. 😀

    #12041 Reply
    Desire_Inspires
    Participant

    It was strike 3 or 4 for this composer (AK) and was the last straw for me.

    Oh, that guy.

    https://musiclibraryreport.com/forums/topic/music-library-music-ripoff/

    #12042 Reply
    MuscoSound
    Participant

    I think that is an important lesson for a lot of composers to take seriously. Just about every piece of custom music I’ve quoted starts off with “I want something that sounds like this.” It is our jobs to make sure not to cross that copyright line and make something with a similar feel but not rip off anything at the same time. Inspiration is one thing, but there is a line.

    As for me, count me out of the sound-a-like stock music game.

    #12044 Reply
    MichaelL
    Participant

    Just about every piece of custom music I’ve quoted starts off with “I want something that sounds like this.”

    LOL. Michael, if I had a penny for every time I was asked to do something “like” I’d be a rich man. I think it’s because, especially with corporate clients, you are dealing with non-musicians and /or non-creatives, and familiar music is their only frame of reference. And, it resonates with their audience.

    As for me, count me out of the sound-a-like stock music game.

    +1

    But…I think writing in a “style” is OK, vs, knocking off a specific track.

    I really don’t like working to temp tracks either. It’s a very uncomfortable situation.

    _Michael

    #12050 Reply
    Desire_Inspires
    Participant

    I really don’t like working to temp tracks either. It’s a very uncomfortable situation.

    It really is annoying sometimes. I have done a few projects like this where I get links to 4 different YouTube videos to use as references. None of them really sound similar.

    I then ask myself the question “Why doesn’t the client just pay the money to license one of these tracks instead of looking for a knockoff?”

    Of course clients want to save money, but sometimes it makes more sense for them to spend the extra money to get exactly what they want. I think that clients look to libraries for ways to get music for cheap. I wish that libraries would say “no” to requests for knockoff songs, even if that meant possibly losing a deal.

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