Tag: music


Digital Art Says: Protect Our “Groove” Too

Annie Kim Digital technology has become one of the most common methods artists use to create art. This advancement in technology causes many copyright difficulties, especially related to artists’ styles. Standardized and common features of digital software have made it far too easy for people to duplicate other people’s work, and more significantly, an artist’s unique style. Current copyright laws are insufficient to address these issues, and there is almost no legal precedent related to protecting an artist’s “art style.” In a groundbreaking case, Williams v. Gaye, the court implemented a two-part test to imply protection for musical styles, the...

Take the © Train: Why a Musician’s Creative Process Should Be Considered in Music Copyright Litigation

Patricia Rezac Music copyright litigation remains fixated on evaluating basic compositional elements such as pitch, rhythm, and lyrics. Yet, as seen in Tempo Music, Inc. v. Famous Music Corp., courts may often benefit from closely examining a musician’s creative process. By focusing on a musician’s creative process in addition to traditional standards for originality, courts could more effectively determine whether or not a musician has violated a copyright protection. This method would reduce technical complications arising from music copyright claims, create appropriate standards across genres, and introduce a potential solution for copyright issues in the age of digital music. Read Full...

Infringe Now–Apologize Later: Is Class Action a Viable Remedy for Songwriters Claiming Copyright Infringement by Spotify?

Ryan Sullivan Spotify’s compensation model pays out royalties to the record labels, which then compensate the artists and performers. However, Spotify cites the record labels as the reason that artists are not getting paid, but that explanation glosses over whether or not Spotify has infringed upon the copyrights by streaming songs that the company does not have the license to. The streaming service is currently facing the threat of two class action lawsuits that allege that their payment model infringes song writers’ copyrights. The two questions, here, are: Has Spotify infringed upon the copyrights of owners of works that the...

The Fair Play, Fair Pay Act of 2015: What’s at Stake and for Whom?

William W. Shields and Jeffrey S. Becker The United States Copyright Act is primed to take center stage during this current legislative session, as several members of Congress introduced comprehensive legislation earlier this year known as the Fair Play, Fair Pay Act of 2015 (FPFPA). This bill seeks to modify the Copyright Act in three key ways. First, it would create a terrestrial public performance right for recording artists and owners of master sound recordings. Second, it would eliminate the Copyright Act’s exemption against federal copyright protection for sound recordings fixed prior to February 15, 1972. Third, it would establish...

Happy Birthday to You’: The World’s Most Famous Celebratory Song’s Copyright Challenged

Kena Patel It is a well-known adage that the best things in life are free, but how true could this be with a copyright looming over the “Happy Birthday to You” song’s head? On September 22, 2015, a U.S. District Court in California freed “Happy Birthday to You” by ruling on the case Marya v. Warner/Chappell Music, Inc. and declaring Warner/Chappell’s copyright invalid. Although the song is widely known by all, many individuals do not know that “Happy Birthday to You” was copyrighted at all, let alone know that Warner/Chappell was making $2 million a year from ownership. The history...

Digital Sampling of Music and Copyrights: Is It Infringement, Fair Use, or Should We Just Flip a Coin?

Christopher C. Collie; Eric D. Gorman D.J. Girl Talk is one of the budding artists in the music industry today, and his instrument is a laptop. D.J. Girl Talk (hereinafter also referred to as “Girl Talk”), whose real name is Gregg Gillis, “samples,” or uses short clips, from other artists’ songs to create popular dance music. Girl Talk’s songs combine old, contemporary, and downright odd genres of music. Within these different genres, he samples from artists such as Clipse, Kelly Clarkson, and Hot Chip. At his live concerts, D.J. Girl Talk leads massive crowds who dance non-stop to his songs....
2010Technology Law

File Sharing: A Tool for Innovation, or a Criminal Instrument?

Andrew Eichner The dawn of peer-to-peer networks and the subsequent rise of file sharing over the Internet have proved to be a considerable threat to the revenues of the Recording Industry Association of America (“RIAA”) and the international music community. While early music downloading across peer-to-peer networks on the Internet was largely limited “to college students with access to fast pipes and techno geeks sufficiently driven to search the Net for the latest Phish bootlegs,” the market for illegally downloaded music taken from file sharing websites has expanded to astronomic proportions and continues to do so even at present. The...

The Unlitigated Case: A Study of the Legality of Guitar Tablatures

James T. Tsai Guitar tablature Web sites have been the subject of recent cease-and-desist letters, forcing most to shut down. Litigation has been side-stepped with the arrival of new creative means to continue operation. The case that may have gone to court is discussed here, ranging from the appropriate legal claims of copyright infringement to the fair-use-defense arguments that would have been made. Policy solutions are considered to resolve the tension between the public’s desire to use such tablatures and the copyright owners of the original artists. Read Full Text Here
2007Technology Law

An Exploration of Rights Management Technologies Used in the Music Industry

Nika Aldrich On November 19, 2005, the Attorney General of the State of Texas filed a lawsuit against Sony BMG. This action was followed promptly by class action lawsuits in California and New York. Nine actions from New York, one from California, and one from New Mexico were involved in the consolidation action of April 2006. Elsewhere, a complaint to the Federal Government was filed in Italy against Sony BMG. With this flurry of lawsuits, the term, “Digital Rights Management” was thrust into the court system. As the consolidated action settles and the term “Digital Rights Management” makes its way...