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posted by LaminatorX on Friday March 13 2015, @03:48PM   Printer-friendly
from the let's-get-it-on dept.

The Washington Post reports that the $7.4 million verdict that Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke copied Marvin Gaye’s music to create their hit song “Blurred Lines” could ripple across the music industry, potentially changing how artists work and opening the door to new copyright claims. Howard King, lead attorney for Thicke and Williams, said in closing arguments that a verdict for the Gaye family would have a chilling effect on musicians trying to evoke an era or create an homage to the sound of earlier artists. Williams contended during the trial that he was only trying to mimic the “feel” of Gaye’s late 1970s music but insisted he did not use elements of his idol’s work. “Today’s successful verdict, with the odds more than stacked against the Marvin Gaye estate, could redefine what copyright infringement means for recording artists,” says Glen Rothstein, an intellectual property attorney. King says record labels are going to become more reluctant to release music that’s similar to other works—an assertion disputed by Richard Busch, the lead attorney for the Gaye family. “While Mr. Williams's lawyer suggested in his closing argument that the world would come to an end, and music would cease to exist if they were found liable, I still see the sun shining,” says Busch. “The music industry will go on.”

Music copyright trials are rare, but allegations that a song copies another artist’s work are common. Singers Sam Smith and Tom Petty recently reached an agreement that conferred songwriting credit to Petty on Smith’s song, “Stay With Me,” which resembled Petty’s hit “I Won’t Back Down.” Other music copyright cases include Former Beatle George Harrison's 1970 solo song "My Sweet Lord" which had a melody heavy with echoes of "He's So Fine," the 1962 hit from The Chiffons. The copyright owner sued Harrison. A judge said that while the tunes were nearly identical, Harrison was guilty only of "subconscious plagiarism." Harrison would eventually pay out $587,000. Probably the most bizarre case of musical infringement was when John Fogerty was accused of stealing from John Fogerty. The Creedence Clearwater Revival frontman was sued for his 1985 solo song "The Old Man Down the Road" because his former label thought it sounded too much like the 1970 Fogerty-penned "Run Through the Jungle," a song it owned the rights to.

 
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  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by CirclesInSand on Friday March 13 2015, @06:11PM

    by CirclesInSand (2899) on Friday March 13 2015, @06:11PM (#157382)

    There are a lot of good reasons for ending copy law, and not so many for keeping it.

    It is subjective. A person can be in court for an action that no one knows (not even the judge) if it was illegal, and eventually a judge simply decides if a derivative work is an infringement or not. Even what counts as "copying" is questionable: if you visit a webpage with a copy protected media, and it gets transferred to your hard drive, you may have violated copy law. Fair use is by no means an objective standard: See these photography cases [99designs.com], it is just a crap shoot.

    Copy law is arbitrary: the duration of ownership is set without reason. When you buy a car, the materials for it don't return to public use "50 years after death": you are entitled to sell it in a will, and the subsequent owner is entitled to own it forever as well. Laws that aren't based on reason, but rather the fickle feelings of a generation are dangerous things. What was a significant achievement in the past is not a significant achievement today, so setting the same copy prohibition term for everything is inevitably oppressive.

    Copy law results in music by legal firms rather than music by musicians. Ever wonder why everyone on the radio today is a talentless, musically illiterate child? Because it's lawyers that count, not skill.

    Copy law is a violation of the Freedom of Speech. It designates certain information (lyrics, story plots) as illegal to communicate to another person. Freedom of Speech is more important than arguing over whether an idea is original or not.

    Most importantly: copy law makes it illegal to do what is the most natural thing for a human to do. Humans observe, copy, and improve incrementally. I love hearing slightly different versions of songs, to see how different musicians approach the same concept. But to make such a composition is very dangerous: 20 years later you could be looking at hundred thousand dollar lawsuits.

    Copy law is assigning owners to music, to art, to words. It's abhorrent, and it's anachronistic. You violate it several times per day just by browsing the Internet port 80s. Nothing would end it faster than actually enforcing it, and any law that is better off unenforced is better off unwritten.

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  • (Score: 2) by frojack on Friday March 13 2015, @07:08PM

    by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Friday March 13 2015, @07:08PM (#157401) Journal

    Copy law results in music by legal firms rather than music by musicians.

    It does no such thing.
    Copyright creates a property interest in music and books that belongs to the authors. Because they own it, they can sell it, and if they choose to sell it to a corporation, they are fully within their right to do so.

    "Copy law" is a violation of the Freedom of Speech.

    Since copyright was included in the body of the constitution (ARTICLE I, SECTION 8, CLAUSE 8) it seems strange to claim that it violates the first amendment, since the 1st makes no mention of removing Article 1, section 8, or removal of copyright. Had the 1st intended to restrict copyright it would have said so.

    In short your entire post is full of half truths total misunderstanding of the facts.

    The founders wrote:

    The Congress shall have Power To...promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries....

    The violence done to this is clause has been due to the extension of the duration, beyond any reasonable length of time.

    --
    No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
    • (Score: 1) by NickFortune on Saturday March 14 2015, @12:53PM

      by NickFortune (3267) on Saturday March 14 2015, @12:53PM (#157737)

      Copy law results in music by legal firms rather than music by musicians.

      It does no such thing.

      Copyright creates a property interest in music and books that belongs to the authors. Because they own it, they can sell it, and if they choose to sell it to a corporation, they are fully within their right to do so.

      I think you're arguing at cross purposes. The GP is suggesting that copyright law in its current form is changing the priorities of music distributors and so distorting the creative process behind the music we hear on broadcast media.

      You are describing the way the law works and the rights conferred by the legislation without considering any effects on the music industry.

      It's possible that you're both correct