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Old 07-29-2019, 10:19 PM
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Katy Perry, Dr. Luke, Max Martin (et al.) = plagiarists


Strong copyright laws are good news for songwriters, IMO.
Quote:
A jury on Monday found that Katy Perry’s 2013 hit “Dark Horse” improperly copied a 2009 Christian rap song in a unanimous decision that represented a rare takedown of a pop superstar and her elite producer by a relatively unknown artist.

The verdict by a nine-member federal jury in a Los Angeles courtroom came five years after Marcus Gray and two co-authors, first sued in 2014 alleging “Dark Horse” stole from “Joyful Noise,” a song Gray released under the stage name Flame.
Here's the best part, helpfully bolded and colored red:
Quote:
But in a decision that left many in the courtroom surprised, jurors found all six songwriters and all four corporations that released and distributed the songs were liable, including Perry and Sarah Hudson, who wrote only the song’s words, and Juicy J, who only wrote the rap he provided for the song. Perry was not present when the verdict was read.

Other defendants found liable were Capitol Records as well as Perry’s producers: Dr. Luke, Max Martin and Cirkut, who came up with the song’s beat.
They tried to argue that Joyful Noise was too simple to qualify for copyright AND besides, none of them had ever heard it.
Quote:
But the jury of six women and three men disagreed, finding that the bumping beat and riff at the center of “Joyful Noise” were original enough to be copyrighted.

Perry and the song’s co-authors testified during the seven-day trial that none of them had heard the song or heard of Gray before the lawsuit, nor did they listen to Christian music.
Quote:
“They’re trying to shove Mr. Gray into some gospel music alleyway that no one ever visits,” said plaintiffs’ attorney Michael A. Kahn during closing arguments, when he also pointed out that Perry had begun her career as a Christian artist.
I've never head of him, but Christian music isn't exactly my thing; turns out he's quite popular:
Quote:
Gray’s attorneys had only to demonstrate, however, that “Joyful Noise” had wide dissemination and could have been heard by Perry and her co-authors. They provided as evidence that it had millions of plays on YouTube and Spotify, and that the album it’s included on was nominated for a Grammy.
Whoops… yeah; hard to believe this bunch didn't listen to stuff that was nominated for a Grammy in the last decade or two.
Quote:
Jurors agreed, finding that the song was distributed widely enough that the “Dark Horse” writers may well have heard it.
Quote:
The case now goes to a penalty phase, where the jury will decide how much Perry and other defendants owe for copyright infringement.
Stories from songwriters who have tried to work with some of these folks and found themselves unable to stomach it are full of events, posturing and outright theft waaaaaay out there beyond the bounds of what most people would find acceptable in a professional setting, yet I have no reason to doubt and many reasons to believe their tales. This verdict doesn't surprise me. I hope it isn't overturned on appeal, or the damage awards reduced to an inconsequential amount.
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Old 07-30-2019, 12:20 AM
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This doesn't sound like good news at all to me. Based on the article, no evidence of actual plagiarism was found. They didn't prove that they had even heard the song before, let alone that they copied it. No, the jury just thought the music "sounded similar." Music sounds similar to other music all the time, and laypeople are remarkably bad at being able to even tell if they actually are similar.

And, for goodness sake, they're finding people liable who would have had nothing to do with making that part of the music. Even if the melody was directly copied, the lyricist wouldn't know that, for example.

Plus, if you know anything about writing music, then you know that part of how it works is that your brain remembers music you've heard before, but combines it in new ways. I literally just got through watching a video about how Koji Kondo, the composer for Super Mario Bros and The Legend of Zelda,got his influences. And there are some songs that sound similar to pieces of the SMB or Zelda themes. It was unmistakable, but no one who knows anything about music would call it plagiarism.

This trend isn't helpful to the little guy, who almost wasn't even harmed by this in any way. It really does seem to be trying to copyright the basic building blocks of music. It's a very worrying trend.

Last edited by BigT; 07-30-2019 at 12:21 AM.
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Old 07-30-2019, 12:22 AM
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Here's a video of an actual musician (and educator) talking about the Blurred Lines lawsuit.
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Old 07-30-2019, 01:26 AM
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Howdy! I'm a musician and songwriter. I'm also an ASCAP member. And I think this is a good decision. I'm pleased that the court found everyone involved liable; they all profited from the illegal plagiarizing, after all.
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Old 07-30-2019, 02:08 AM
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I looked for the Joyful Noise song to draw my own conclusions, and I now think that:

a)The song starts actually kinda decent- then they bring the nu-metal musicians, become some sort of Christian Linkin' Park and ruin it.

b) Martin or whoever absolutely took the basic beat from that song. Too many coincidences, from the "You know what it is" at the start, to the hype chorus.
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Old 07-30-2019, 02:21 AM
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To those (everyone?) who think this was a good decision, please explain to me how the guest artist who wrote a rap verse to add on to the song should be liable and considered a plagiarist?
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Old 07-30-2019, 02:38 AM
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Hopefully this makes more people think twice before working with the vile Dr. Luke, who's a) just a vile abuser, and b) done this kind of shit before - looks like his preferred tactic of preemptively suing for defamation didn't happen this time. The moral seems to be "You don't mess with the Jesus(Rap)!"

Quote:
Originally Posted by actualliberalnotoneofthose View Post
To those (everyone?) who think this was a good decision, please explain to me how the guest artist who wrote a rap verse to add on to the song should be liable and considered a plagiarist?
"liable" could just mean "legally liable to pay back any money they made from it", maybe? Sure, they didn't plagiarise, it would be wrong to label them a plagiarist because of this decision.

Last edited by MrDibble; 07-30-2019 at 02:38 AM.
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Old 07-30-2019, 07:11 AM
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Jurors are stupid. This is another reason why.
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Old 07-30-2019, 08:42 AM
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It's a very tricky issue, because on the one hand, as others have already said it's extremely easy to independently write a piece of music that sounds very similar to one that has gone before, without ever having heard the original, on the other hand you can't just let plagiarists off if they claim this is what happened. I'm not familiar with either of the songs in this case, but I can easily believe either version is the true sequence of events, based on just reading the thread. It comes down to which side you think offers the more credible case. But then, that's hardly unique to this type of trial.

Last edited by Dead Cat; 07-30-2019 at 08:43 AM.
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Old 07-30-2019, 09:03 AM
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But in a decision that left many in the courtroom surprised, jurors found all six songwriters and all four corporations that released and distributed the songs were liable
I have a feeling California's "anti-deep-pockets" law has something to do with this. In California, a jury can distribute responsibility - and the resulting damages owed - in pretty much any way it wants among the defendants. They can throw a wide net over all of them at first, and then work out the details later.
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Old 07-30-2019, 11:33 AM
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Vivaldi, 1711

Bach, 1714

But who gets the piece... and the authorship credit when this one was played for the film Dangerous Liaisons? Why, that thieving Bach, that's who! https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0094947/soundtrack

That Vivaldi guy's gotta case, I think
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Old 07-30-2019, 12:16 PM
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The description in your second link would beg to differ (and also gives the year of the Bach piece as 1730-1733), though it's not clear whether Bach acknowledged Vivaldi when it was first performed/published.
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Old 07-30-2019, 12:21 PM
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Plagiarism is not a synonym for copyright infringement. They overlap to some extent but they’re not the same thing.
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Old 07-30-2019, 12:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Snowboarder Bo View Post
hard to believe this bunch didn't listen to stuff that was nominated for a Grammy in the last decade or two.
Really? You find it hard to believe that a producer has not listened to every song on every album nominated for "Best Rock or Rap Gospel Album" every year?
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Old 07-30-2019, 12:22 PM
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Eh, dammit, you're right. Bach copied some of the published pieces in the time period I provided but had I read further would've seen that his transcription for this one piece waited another 20 years.

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Old 07-30-2019, 12:25 PM
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Here's a video of an actual musician (and educator) talking about the Blurred Lines lawsuit.
I agree. I always found that judgment dumb, as do most of musicians I know.
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Old 07-30-2019, 12:29 PM
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Really? You find it hard to believe that a producer has not listened to every song on every album nominated for "Best Rock or Rap Gospel Album" every year?
Yes; that's exactly what I said. You've lawyered your way to glory here; hooray!*





*Since I've been accused of being unclear when I was or was not being satirical, ^ that ^ is satirical.
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Old 07-30-2019, 12:39 PM
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So was this supposed to be sarcastic then?
Quote:
Whoops… yeah; hard to believe this bunch didn't listen to stuff that was nominated for a Grammy in the last decade or two
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Old 07-30-2019, 01:59 PM
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Is it plagiarism if you've never heard the song you supposedly plagiarized? Are you supposed to have listened to every song ever made to be sure you don't infringe?

There needs to be some sort of musical complexity score and tunes that aren't high in complexity and would be easy to make from basic notes shouldn't be copyrightable. IMO.
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Old 07-30-2019, 02:05 PM
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Any decision that goes against that Dr. Luke piece of shit is just fine with me.
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Old 07-30-2019, 02:08 PM
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Is it plagiarism if you've never heard the song you supposedly plagiarized? Are you supposed to have listened to every song ever made to be sure you don't infringe?

There needs to be some sort of musical complexity score and tunes that aren't high in complexity and would be easy to make from basic notes shouldn't be copyrightable. IMO.
Again, there’s no question of plagiarism here. It’s copyright infringement.

To be found liable for copyright infringement one must have copied That means that independent creation is allowed.

But because of direct evidence of copying can be difficult to find, courts allow an inference of copying if you prove that the defendants had access to the work and that the allegedly infringing work is substantially similar to the plaintiff’s work.

It’s the plaintiff’s version to prove either copying or access and substantial similarity.

So no, no one is necessarily responsible for knowing every work in existence.
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Old 07-30-2019, 02:16 PM
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"liable" could just mean "legally liable to pay back any money they made from it", maybe? Sure, they didn't plagiarise, it would be wrong to label them a plagiarist because of this decision.
It would be wrong to label them as “plagiarists” because the court wasn’t considering any question of plagiarism. Indeed there is no federal action for plagiarism.

However, they were found liable for infringement. So it would be accurate to label them as “infringers.”

You can’t be liable for infringement without a finding that you did all the things that define infringement.
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Old 07-30-2019, 02:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Snowboarder Bo View Post
Strong copyright laws are good news for songwriters.
There is an underlying reality to this case.

The person who wrote the music for "Dark Horse" either intentionally copied the beat and riff from "Joyful Noise", or they did not. The reality of this truth is unknown to just about everyone except the person who penned those sections of the song, and I don't pretend to know what actually happened.

If the beat and riff were intentionally copied and credit not given, then this is good news.

If the beat and riff were NOT intentionally copied, if they were independently written and just happened to be very similar, it is not good news for "songwriters". A bunch of songwriters are now on the hook for damages to other people who had nothing to do with the creation of their song. These are songwriters who only got tagged for the similarity because the song they wrote was spectacularly successful. If this scenario is true, EVERY songwriter is at risk for their most popular songs to be subject to lawsuit, because they can unintentionally violate copyright, and that is NOT good news.
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Old 07-30-2019, 02:39 PM
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Music sounds similar to other music all the time, and laypeople are remarkably bad at being able to even tell if they actually are similar.
[Snip]
Plus, if you know anything about writing music, then you know that part of how it works is that your brain remembers music you've heard before, but combines it in new ways. I literally just got through watching a video about how Koji Kondo, the composer for Super Mario Bros and The Legend of Zelda,got his influences. And there are some songs that sound similar to pieces of the SMB or Zelda themes. It was unmistakable, but no one who knows anything about music would call it plagiarism.

This trend isn't helpful to the little guy, who almost wasn't even harmed by this in any way. It really does seem to be trying to copyright the basic building blocks of music. It's a very worrying trend.
A melancholy elephant might well agree with you. (Part 3 gets to the crux of the matter).
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Old 07-30-2019, 03:03 PM
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Someone on Reddit wrote the following:

Quote:
Dark Horse's is:

C# C# C# C#
C C
A#
F

Joyful Noise's is:

C C C C
B B B
A
C C C C
B B B
F
Looks a lot different to me. I don't know enough about music to confirm or dispute that.
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Old 07-30-2019, 03:14 PM
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I have a feeling California's "anti-deep-pockets" law has something to do with this. In California, a jury can distribute responsibility - and the resulting damages owed - in pretty much any way it wants among the defendants. They can throw a wide net over all of them at first, and then work out the details later.
I'm curious about this because I wonder how much Juicy J really profited off this. If he got writing credit for his verse I guess he got royalties for that (and should he not, for words that he wrote and performed himself?), but a lot of times guest rappers (and ghost "producers") and performers/musicians get a fee and very little if anything of the back end.

I seem to recall the "Blurred Lines" case assigning damages that seemed way out of line with the actual profits of performers in the digital age of streaming and Youtube comprising the bulk of "sales."

So, I'm just wondering how much the guy 6th in line is going to have to pay for agreeing to be a guest on a single that sold a bunch of 99 cent downloads and comprised 1/13th or 1/16th of an album that sold about 4 million units worldwide.
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Old 07-30-2019, 04:06 PM
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Someone on Reddit wrote the following:



Looks a lot different to me. I don't know enough about music to confirm or dispute that.
IF you adjusted them for the same key (which is more fair to compare), "Dark Horse" would be:

C C C C
B B
A
E

Closer. The beat itself sounds like Joyful Noise ripping off a generic Southern rap snap-style beat. Nothing particularly new about that that I can tell. The only thing that gives me pause is the "yeah, y'all know what it is" at the start of the Katy Perry song and the "You know what it is" at the Christian rock song. That, to me, makes me doubt the claim that no one among the songwriting or production crew had heard the Flame song before.
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Old 07-30-2019, 04:20 PM
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Here's Rick Beato's well-reasoned take on the lawsuit. (He's one of my favorite musical Youtubers; he's got bona fides as a musician, producer, songwriter, and educator. Very even-handed and intelligent.)
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Old 07-30-2019, 04:41 PM
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they all profited from the illegal plagiarizing, after all.
Cite? Your link doesn't discuss plagiarism.
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Old 07-30-2019, 04:41 PM
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Plus, if you know anything about writing music, then you know that part of how it works is that your brain remembers music you've heard before, but combines it in new ways. I literally just got through watching a video about how Koji Kondo, the composer for Super Mario Bros and The Legend of Zelda,got his influences. And there are some songs that sound similar to pieces of the SMB or Zelda themes. It was unmistakable, but no one who knows anything about music would call it plagiarism.
Hah. This one literally just now showed up in my Youtube feed. Here it is for those interested. Most of those are closer than the similarities I hear in this particular lawsuit.
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Old 07-30-2019, 11:38 PM
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To me, there are three similar elements in the song: The base melody (in a similar key), the "y'all know what it is" at the start, and the male chorus going "whoop, whoop, whoop".

In a world of infinite musical possibilities, chances of these three elements coinciding in two unrelated songs are staggeringly low. No, more like literally impossible.

The authors claiming that, at least one of them never heard of the original is nonsense. They practically sampled the thing and weren't even trying to hide it. They were so clearly doing that, seems to me, somebody forgot to tell the label's lawyers to contact Flame and tell him about it.

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Old 07-31-2019, 12:13 AM
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To me, there are three similar elements in the song: The base melody (in a similar key), the "y'all know what it is" at the start, and the male chorus going "whoop, whoop, whoop".

In a world of infinite musical possibilities, chances of these three elements coinciding in two unrelated songs are staggeringly low. No, more like literally impossible.

The authors claiming that, at least one of them never heard of the original is nonsense. They practically sampled the thing and weren't even trying to hide it. They were so clearly doing that, seems to me, somebody forgot to tell the label's lawyers to contact Flame and tell him about it.
The melody for two bars is similar (not identical). Well, it's actually not even the melody. It's a synth riff underlying a rap in the one case. The rap doesn't have a proper melody. Dark Horse does. You could go through every song released in the last 10 years and I doubt you could find a single one that doesn't have two bars of its melody that are similar to at least one other song.

These two songs are less similar to each other than every song in the infamous "Pachabel rant" video is to every other song in that video.
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Old 07-31-2019, 01:02 AM
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The melody for two bars is similar (not identical). Well, it's actually not even the melody. It's a synth riff underlying a rap in the one case. The rap doesn't have a proper melody. Dark Horse does. You could go through every song released in the last 10 years and I doubt you could find a single one that doesn't have two bars of its melody that are similar to at least one other song.

These two songs are less similar to each other than every song in the infamous "Pachabel rant" video is to every other song in that video.
No.

I'm not a musician, I have no idea of bars or which notes are which or anything like that, but when I hear the base music for the Flame song, I absolutely recognize it as Dark Horse. I don't think it's any other Katy Perry song, or any other song from anybody else. I'm absolutely, 100% recognizing it as the intro for Dark Horse.
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Old 07-31-2019, 03:23 AM
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No.

I'm not a musician, I have no idea of bars or which notes are which or anything like that, but when I hear the base music for the Flame song, I absolutely recognize it as Dark Horse. I don't think it's any other Katy Perry song, or any other song from anybody else. I'm absolutely, 100% recognizing it as the intro for Dark Horse.
My bold. This is the problem. It’s a bit like accusing Ferrari of copying Lamborghini because they both make red cars and somebody who’s “not a car person” thinks they look the same.

If every song had to be completely unique and not sound anything like another song, the entire music industry would grind to a halt. Blues would have been still-born. There are only 12 notes, there are many ways they can be put together but the number of ways they can be put together and sound “musical” is relatively limited.
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Old 07-31-2019, 04:15 AM
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No, I don't agree.

Lamborghini copies Ferrari, everyone knows that.
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Old 07-31-2019, 04:46 AM
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The joke's on them. I already have the copyright on C#, the bass clef, and 3/4s time.
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Old 07-31-2019, 06:43 AM
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If every song had to be completely unique and not sound anything like another song, the entire music industry would grind to a halt. Blues would have been still-born. There are only 12 notes, there are many ways they can be put together but the number of ways they can be put together and sound “musical” is relatively limited.
Absolutely. And that's why if the only evidence is that there's a similarly recognizable tune you could happily give Perry, Luke, Martin et al the benefit of the doubt.
But you pair this with the "Y'all know what it is" and the whoops, and the possibility of coincidence starts becoming really, really low.
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Old 07-31-2019, 11:45 AM
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Absolutely. And that's why if the only evidence is that there's a similarly recognizable tune you could happily give Perry, Luke, Martin et al the benefit of the doubt.
But you pair this with the "Y'all know what it is" and the whoops, and the possibility of coincidence starts becoming really, really low.
When you google "Y'all know what it is" the first two results are two different songs with that title. Googling "Y'all know what it is" meaning comes up with two more songs with that lyric as the first results, neither song being Dark Horse or Joyful Noise. It seems to me that that phrase isn't as unique as all that. Cite. Cite 2.
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Old 07-31-2019, 01:51 PM
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When you google "Y'all know what it is" the first two results are two different songs with that title. Googling "Y'all know what it is" meaning
Yes. But it doesn't really need to be unique. It's unique enough that only a small percent of songs have it.
Now, before you mention it, there's also plenty of songs with guys screaming "whoop, whoop, whoop."
And if the only thing in common between the two songs was either of these three elements, sure, there would be very little legal leeway here.
Two? A bit too coincidental. Way too coincidental, let's be honest.
Three? Come on. No, seriously. Come on.
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Old 08-01-2019, 03:40 PM
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Quote:
Quoth Go_Arachnid_Laser:

In a world of infinite musical possibilities, chances of these three elements coinciding in two unrelated songs are staggeringly low. No, more like literally impossible.
In a world of infinite musical possibilities, the chances of those three elements coinciding would be 1.0, as high as it is possible for a chance to get.

In the real world, the chances are some amount lower than that. How much lower? I dunno; do the math and tell me.
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Old 08-01-2019, 04:12 PM
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Now, before you mention it, there's also plenty of songs with guys screaming "whoop, whoop, whoop."
Maybe I'm misunderstanding, but I have no idea what the "whoop whoop whoop" is you're referring to.
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Old 08-01-2019, 05:17 PM
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Another video by a musician/producer/educator explaining why it's a bad result.
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Old 08-01-2019, 05:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Ají de Gallina View Post
Another video by a musician/producer/educator explaining why it's a bad result.
Psst. Post #28.
  #44  
Old 08-01-2019, 05:33 PM
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Originally Posted by pulykamell View Post
Psst. Post #28.
  #45  
Old 08-01-2019, 07:00 PM
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Crime pays:
Quote:
Katy Perry, her collaborators and her record label must pay more than $2.78 million because the pop star’s 2013 hit “Dark Horse” copied a Christian rap song, a jury decided Thursday.
Quote:
“These defendants have made millions and millions of dollars from their infringement of the plaintiff’s copyright,” Gray’s attorney, Michael A. Kahn, told the jury.

Perry herself was hit for just over $550,000, with Capitol Records responsible for the vast majority of the money.
Quote:
Perry’s attorney, Christine Lepera, said they plan to vigorously fight the decision.

“The writers of Dark Horse consider this a travesty of justice,” Lepera said.

Both sides agree that Perry herself made a profit of $2.4 million, while Gray’s attorneys argued that her song had grossed about $41 million.
Quote:
Collectively, the songwriters earned about $10 million on the song before expenses and Capitol Records earned $31 million, leading to the plaintiffs’ $41 million figure.
So she'll use the money she got from this crime to fight being held responsible for this crime.

What an awesome justice system the US has!

Last edited by Snowboarder Bo; 08-01-2019 at 07:04 PM.
  #46  
Old 08-01-2019, 07:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Snowboarder Bo View Post
Howdy! I'm a musician and songwriter. I'm also an ASCAP member. And I think this is a good decision. I'm pleased that the court found everyone involved liable; they all profited from the illegal plagiarizing, after all.
So am I, I am also a ASCAP member and publisher. and I also am a part owner of a record label. This is bad news IMHO. If the burden of proof isn't there that it was directly plagiarized, then any bozo that I have never heard of can sue me because I have a song that goes from minor to major to minor to major for example. Most lay people have a hard time detecting a specific key, but they can pick out a minor or a seventh pretty easy from a major.

I am in a band that is represented by my own label (we do other bands too) but what is to stop someone that had a song is 1963 that nobody heard of that goes Am C9 Dsustained2 G Major from suing me when I have a song that goes in a similar arrangement, albeit different keys?

Or even the same chords? They sound like complicated chords to the average joe, but any half rate guitarist is well versed in these so called "cowboy chords" because they are easy to hop around on each other. Most of our country acts know seven chords, they just move a capo up and down the neck to keep the album from sounding like the same long song.

The only people winning here are lawyers.
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  #47  
Old 08-01-2019, 07:45 PM
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If you make it big enough that one of the people involved in a 1963 song that nobody heard of sues you, it's obvious that you'll have more than enough money to pay them off AND fight back with what's left over.

If you don't make it big, how would anyone hear your song to know to sue you?

The more likely event, as this case shows, is that your obscure band finds itself being copied by a more popular artist. And now, as this case shows, at least you'll get compensated somewhat for the theft.

Stop worrying about how something might adversely affect you if you become a zillionaire. You're not going to be one; you're the underdog.
  #48  
Old 08-01-2019, 08:01 PM
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Originally Posted by Go_Arachnid_Laser View Post
Two? A bit too coincidental. Way too coincidental, let's be honest.
Three? Come on. No, seriously. Come on.
Could be. But even if they "stole" those similarities, give them a small piece of the songwriting credit. Like you would for using a small sample. At worst they took a couple small pieces of an existing song and incorporated it into a new song. This has been going on for hundreds or thousands of years.
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Old 08-01-2019, 08:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Translucent Daydream View Post
So am I, I am also a ASCAP member and publisher. and I also am a part owner of a record label. This is bad news IMHO. If the burden of proof isn't there that it was directly plagiarized, then any bozo that I have never heard of can sue me because I have a song that goes from minor to major to minor to major for example. Most lay people have a hard time detecting a specific key, but they can pick out a minor or a seventh pretty easy from a major.
When was the standard ever that there was direct proof that a musician ripped off another song?
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  #50  
Old 08-01-2019, 10:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pulykamell View Post
Here's Rick Beato's well-reasoned take on the lawsuit. (He's one of my favorite musical Youtubers; he's got bona fides as a musician, producer, songwriter, and educator. Very even-handed and intelligent.)
I was going to post that. Kudos.
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