Submitted via IRC for SoyCow3941
The founder of a site that provided fan-created subtitles has lost his appeal against a conviction for copyright infringement. In 2017 a Swedish court found that the unauthorized distribution of movie subtitles is a crime, sentencing the then 32-year-old to probation and a fine. The Court of Appeal has now largely upheld that earlier verdict.
(Score: 2) by AthanasiusKircher on Wednesday March 28 2018, @02:49AM (2 children)
"Nearly all use fewer than 5"?? That's absolutely false. Without using the internet, I dare you to come up with even 10 songs with FEWER than five distinct notes -- that is, only up to four notes. There are very few common songs that meet that criteria.
You're right that standard pop music and folk songs often use 5 to 7 notes in their scales. But it's certainly not "very difficult" to use more. Let's set aside most of classical music, which often has pieces using all 12 chromatic notes (and almost all pieced use at least 8 or 9). Jazz traditions, Tin Pan Alley, Broadway showtunes, even most "old standards" of American popular song before the rock era tended to use more than 7 notes. It's not difficult -- it's just different stylistically.
Of course, you're right that there are a limited number of recognizable short motives in standard scales using only a few notes. But copyright law properly applied shouldn't find infringement for short motives any more than a novelist should be found guilty of infringement for begining a story with "Once upon a time." It's easy to write a song that's sort of similar to another, but it's also pretty easy to make it distinctive with minimal effort... Even with only 5-7 note scales.
(Score: 2) by Arik on Wednesday March 28 2018, @04:20AM
No, it's not. The main motif of virtually every popular song is built using 3 or 4 notes. Are other notes sounded incidentally during performance? Of course, in all but the sparsest arrangement they will be - but a super-sparse arrangement does not in any way get you off the copyright hook.
"Without using the internet, I dare you to come up with even 10 songs with FEWER than five distinct notes -- that is, only up to four notes."
10 off the top of my head is a bit much to ask, even as easy as they are to come up with, but I'll humor you with an example off the top of my head.
Van Morrison - "Brown Eyed Girl" comes to mind because I was having fun figuring a little of it out just the other day. And the gist of that song is four notes, 1, 4, 5, and 6, in the correct time. Yes, any decent performance of the song will have a lot more, there is an absolutely brilliant intro at the beginning (that almost no one plays when they cover it) and lots of subtle garnishes - but no matter how badly you play it, skip the intro, don't try to capture any subtleties, it's still recognizably that song. You don't even need to try to sing it, you could play that on a kazoo or with one finger on a piano and it still sounds like Brown Eyed Girl.
Now can you give one example? One example of a popular or folk tune built around a motif using more than 5 distinct notes? I'm sure there are a few but they're quite rare. I'm not talking about garnishes I'm talking about the guts of the tune - the minimum skeleton of it that you'll hear people hum, the recognizable core that a performer garnishes and embellishes to show his skill.
"Let's set aside most of classical music"
Yes, let's, it's an entirely different beast.
As is Jazz. Jazz is not in any sense pop or folk music, despite it's origins, it hasn't been that for decades.
"But copyright law properly applied"
Isn't that extinct?
Now, to be clear, I'm not saying that equivalence at the basic skeletal level I'm talking about, all by itself, is enough to get you found liable for copyright infringement. If there is absolutely no other resemblance between your song and the song owned by the plaintiff other than that, no resemblance in the lyrics, all the garnishes different, different style, different instrumentation, you can probably get away with that, where 'get away with that' is defined as not ultimately lose the case. You still might get sued and have to pay a lawyer though. And, more importantly, if you're trying to make a living with your music online, you can get 'taken down' without even having that opportunity to defend yourself. Take downs are often generated by robots submitted to robots and acted upon by robots with no human being, let alone a highly educated expert in music law, let alone an actual court, ever verifying them. This is only gaining speed, and it's a real danger.
But forget about that, what could cause you to lose a copyright suit? Well, having the same basic skeletal structure as the song you're being sued for is strike one. We just need to add a couple more strikes, give or take, to get a judge on our side. And what if, rather than totally different lyrics instrumentation and style, both songs are done in similar styles, with similar instrumentation? Well you're probably going to have lots more similarities at that point, just implied by those facts, they're likely to be graced and harmonized similarly as well. And let's not pretend there is all that much room for variance in lyrics here either, there are a few themes that are repeated endlessly, so why would we not expect to find some sort of similarity there?
I think it's a lot harder than you appreciate to write something truly new, or even just something not copyright infringing. As robots are used to match larger libraries, more and more hits will be found, more and more of the back-catalog will be dug up and dusted off and digitized - not to offer it to sale, but to train the robots looking for infringement - and as a result it's only going to get harder to sing or play anything that isn't at least confusingly similar with something in a record company catalog.
If laughter is the best medicine, who are the best doctors?
(Score: 2) by Pino P on Thursday March 29 2018, @03:30PM
The case law defining copying doesn't require the prior work and the infringing work to be identical, just "substantially similar". If two melodic hooks differ only in ornaments, such as grace notes or momentary chromaticity, the plaintiff's better-funded lawyers will probably persuade a jury to find them similar.
The motive at issue in the Bright Tunes case was Sol~ Mi~ Re~, Sol La Do' La Do' Do', where ~ represents a long note. That was long enough for a finding of liability. Is this more than "short motives"? Or was copyright law improperly applied in that case?