Sunday, March 15, 2015

"Blurred Lines" outcome: a really nasty precedent?

Marty Clear in the Bradenton Herald on the Blurred Lines copying matter:


Thicke and his people probably made a tactical mistake when they filed a "preemptive" suit against Gaye's estate to try to block a plagiarism suit. It made them seem like petulant brats, musical upstarts who thought they were bigger than one of the legendary figures in music. Even some people who disagree with the verdict are glad that Thicke got badly spanked.

Probably, instead, Thicke et al should have reached out to Gaye's people and said, "Look, we're gonna make a ton of money off this song and we were obviously influenced by Marvin's song, so why don't we call him a co-writer?"

As it is, there's this ridiculously huge lawsuit that goes way beyond rewarding Gaye's estate for creating the song's groove.

I'm no lawyer, but it seems to me this could set a really nasty precedent.

Maybe it comes down to the definition of a song. Most people, at least before now, would have said a song is music and lyrics. If you imitate someone's beat, you should pay them something for it, but it doesn't make you a plagiarist.

Now it does. You might write a catchy pop song, with all-new lyrics and melodies, but if anything about your song is anything like another song, you're in trouble.



IPBiz notes that a jury verdict does not set legal precedent, although
it may give potential litigants an idea of what might happen.

One recalls that Thicke made a presentation of points made by Clear,
but evidently the jury did not buy into it.

One ponders a patent law in which all influencers are named co-inventors.
What would be the patent law equivalent of a "groove"?

Once again, one notes copyright infringement and plagiarism are different items.
Copying without attribution is plagiarism.

**From a 27 Feb. 15 IPBiz post

Mind you, Robin's defense team unveiled an unusual strategy to help present its case. While on the witness stand, the 37-year-old singer performed a piano medley featuring several known songs: U2's With Or Without You, The Beatles' Let It Be, Alphaville's Forever Young, Bob Marley's No Woman No Cry, and Michael Jackson's Man In the Mirror.

Although musical interludes can liven up any legal proceeding, the medley was designed to show many songs share similar chords and melodies without copying each other. To further the point, Robin noted that Blurred Lines relies solely on A-major and E-major, while Got To Give It Up uses eight different chords.




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