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When does inspiration spill over into copyright infringement?

On Behalf of | Nov 24, 2018 | Copyright Law |

Many copyright infringement cases for musician’s hinge on what exactly is infringement and what is not. At what point do songs go from having similarities to all out copyright infringement? If you were to ask many of the creative people behind the music, they would most likely say that the knowledge they have on writing music is based on what influenced them musically. While this does not mean these artists should only play a version of what inspires them, but how far away do they need to stray away from those influences to be safe from copyright infringement?

This begs the question, can new music be created without inspiration from music that came before? If it can, which seems to be the case, how much if at all can it sound like the original?

Is an internet trend proving copyright infringement?

A new trend on popular social media websites including YouTube, is users creating a mashup. A mashup is blending two songs together to create one new song. However, there have been times where a mashup has contained up to six songs all blended together where it is very difficult to know when it switches from one artist to the next. If these songs sound so similar as to not be recognizable in a mashup, shouldn’t there be a copyright infringement case to be made?

Pursuing copyright violators

Many artists and those who own the rights to certain music do not seem to be allowing much wiggle room for the inspirational argument. Copyright infringement cases seem to be growing as more artists come across music that sounds eerily similar to their own. Just a few of the artists who have been sued for copyright infringement include Justin Bieber, Led Zeppelin, Ed Sheeran, Kanye West and Bruno Mars. This list can go on and on.

Infringement of musical property goes way back

Copyright infringement has even seen cases where just short sections of songs or the general feel of the composition elicits an accusation of infringement. The act of doing this sort of borrowing may have come from the top classical composers that ever lived, where it seemed common to all out copy or re-interpret older work to create new compositions.

Copyright violators have a knack of citing the influence of another artist or how much a certain piece of music inspired them. Regardless of the reason, if there has been an infringement on someone else’s musical property, they may be subject to legal action for copyright infringement.



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