The terrible "Blurred Lines" copyright decision is now threatening Lil Nas X and Cardi B

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/10/08/nuisance-suits-forever.html

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Let’s be honest, these songs sound pretty damn similar

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Blurred Lines wasn’t even the first time a suit like this had chilling effects.

This is the lawsuit that determined that you can be found at fault for “subconsciously” infringing copyright.

No, it really isn’t.

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Of course Blurred Lines didn’t rip off Marvin Gaye… it was too busy ripping off Bell Biv DeVoe.

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Rodeo is a good song to anyone who likes it because music quality is subjective

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Before the Blurred Lines decision, the legal threshold for musical plagiarism was higher than “pretty damn similar”.

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I do some copyright work, and I can’t count the times I’ve had a conversation with someone along the lines of:

I have two questions:

  1. Someone else is using my stuff, how do I force them to stop and/or pay me all the money?
  2. I would like to use someone else’s stuff, can you tell me how to do that without having to pay them or get their permission?

People simply cannot reconcile in their head that they can be both creators and consumers of intellectual property and therefore unbalanced rules in either direction are going to impact them negatively at some point. The music industry thought more copyright was always better, because they thought of themselves only as creators. But of course, that’s not true. They are also consumers and now they’re being pursued as consumers by other creators under the same over zealous copyright law they helped put in place.

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I remember on Aquarius Records old website, in the early 2000’s when the wave of obscure reissues was growing, someone there opined that “so much music has been made in the last 100 years that we really don’t need to come up with any more, we can just go back and dig up forgotten albums and it’ll be like having a new release to enjoy.”

I thought that was kind of silly and/or naive at the time, but now I’m not so sure.

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Fucking beautiful. And the beat goes on, but don’t sing about it, or at least don’t be successful when singing about it.

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I’m going to write a script to procedurally generate songs with different chord progressions and beat rates, and copyright them. It may cost me some thousands of dollars in registration fees, but by the time I’m finished nobody will be able to release any song without paying me royalties.

The fact that I’m announcing my trolling plan in advance does not void my rights.

edited to add: I have no idea whether one pays a fee to register the copyright of a song

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http://www.spiderrobinson.com/melancholyelephants.html

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Chord progressions can’t be copyrighted. What you need to do is generate thousands of melodies, weed out the ones that plagiarise existing songs, and copyright the rest.

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The best explainer about this new terrible trend I’ve seen is from Adam Neely who breaks down the musical theory jargon that’s often used to give these naked money-grabs the veneer of respectability. He did two videos on the topic and I recommend both:

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Pandora used the same criteria as this lawsuit for grouping songs as ‘similar’. They had some foresight coming up with that name.

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Sucks for Pachelbel, right?

(And, wow, that article you linked is some edgelord misogynistic bullshit.)

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To be fair, so was “Blurred Lines.

But Axis of Awesome’s ‘4 Chord Song’ is still… awesome.

^_^

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Wow. Blurred Lines really is the shit that keeps on stinking.

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Cory Doctorow is usually pretty reasonable. But I cannot agree with his opinion about the “Blurred Lines” decision. I am fairly knowledgeable about music and having heard both Blurred Lines and the song from Marvin Gaye side-by-side it is very clear to me that there are several elements of Blurred Lines that are close to being exact copies of Gayes original ideas. It’s sad that in today’s state of mind copying someone else’s original idea is seen as ethically ambivalent.

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I’m pissed off that no estates profit from this mashup. Highly illegal.

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