Posted by: tiannarachellewaite | November 16, 2015

Copyright Infringement or Inspiration?

When reading about copyright and fair use this week, one question kept coming to my mind—where is the boundary for copyright and fair use infringement? How can one truly determine a violation?

One of the easiest examples to help explain my question is within the music realm. There is a finite amount of ways to put together musical notes to create nice melodies; therefore, it’s only a matter of time before one song begins to sound like another song. Because of this challenge within musical copyrights, there are recent examples in which music artists feel as though their music had been copied.

Screen Shot 2015-11-15 at 4.46.23 PM

In early 2015, a jury granted the verdict of copyright infringement based on musical plagiarism against Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke. The accusation was that the two song-writer/singers plagiarized Marvin Gaye’s 1977 hit Got to Give it up with their 2013 hit single Blurred Lines. This ruling may forever change the landscape of music and using other songs for inspiration.

But the question remains, how do courts decide what is considered infringement and what is not? Most pop songs are constructed with the same four chords, so to make this distinction is very challenging. The video below demonstrates the similarities in many pop songs throughout the past two decades.

Which songs in the video do you think would fall into the infringement category? Which do you feel are merely inspired by other pop songs?

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