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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: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 13 2015, @08:21PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 13 2015, @08:21PM (#157444)
    The problem is people thinking that music sharing some similar things = infringement. So what if something has the same style, or same chord progression, or similar drum beat, or heck even exact same drum beat.

    It's as stupid as saying a story having similar themes/ideas = infringement.

    I could write a story with the same theme/structure as some other random story and it would be crap, and nobody would want to watch a movie made of it. You can see so many movies/stories with promising themes and ideas but are badly executed/implemented.

    So if it were up to me, I'd be fine with you copying from other people's works as long as you cite your sources.

    But if you try to charge for it, then any of your sources (cited or not) can challenge you for making an inferior/unworthy version. In which case if less than X% (X=1 [1]) of a random sampling of other people think your version is better than what you copied, you are fined (related to the maximum amount you are charging) and not allowed to charge for your inferior work. This of course is assuming that enough people think that your work is a derivative version of the original.

    [1] Is 1% fair? Should it be higher? If enough people think your work is obviously a derivative version, but less than 1% think its better, then you shouldn't be encouraged to produce more derivative crap - either make it better or make it different. I picked 1% so that you can cater for different tastes. People have different tastes but if you're making something derivative and that more than 99% consider inferior what niche market are you trying to target and charge? Go do it as a hobby and get a job doing something else.
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