Why the "Blurred Lines" Decision Is Ultimately Good for Music: A Dissenting View

Comments

1
Dave,
I actually agree with what you wrote. I, too find pop music today not very creative. If this seemingly expensive award spurs more creativity, so be it. In addition, if it enables more listeners to hear more of these music pioneers such as Gaye, that too is a positive development.
2
I love this utopian manifesto! God, if only. Yeah, but seriously, it's been way too easy the past few years for new music to just replay the creativity of previous generations. There really has been a death of originality, and if love doesn't work to change that, maybe fear will
3
Ha! Just to state one of many thousands of examples, half of the Rolling Stones catalog stole directly from Chuck Berry and Muddy Waters, not even counting their cover tunes. Popular music is built upon direct theft of what has gone before. Always has been.
4
Good point. And yeah, fear probably isn't going to work, and that blazing future of "originality" is not going to happen. And I guess never really existed, ever.
5
@3
Also, Disney built an empire on using other people's creativity. They are a great role model for all modern artists.
6
People, I think we're about to witness a new era of unprecedented originality.

Yeah, because that's exactly what happened to hip-hop after the Grand Upright Music v. Warner Bros. Records decision. If there was one thing that hip-hip in the 90s was noted for after breakbeats were ruled copyrightable and sampling effectively outlawed, it was originality -- just ask Puff Daddy. :-b
7
@3,
You have a point. A friend of mine a trumpeter who plays jazz claims that Charlie Parker's entire oeuvre may be a rip-off of George Gershwin's "I Got Rhythm". Also, my understanding is Chuck Berry's "Maybelline" is a direct copy of "Ida Red".
8
(What this decision actually does: vastly stacks the deck back in favor of the major labels. If you can't afford class-A legal representation, it is no longer worth your while to try to release pop/rock/rap music without clearing every last guitar fill as if it were a sample.)
9
This is sarcasm, no? There are already artists doing the things you would like to see more of and I'm sure you know this already because you name-checked a few of them. They are not popular because what they do is by definition not pop(ular).

The looming threat of legal action is not going to make experimental music mainstream, it just means that commercial artists now have a highly subjective legal minefield to navigate when producing music, where etablished/successful/industry-entrenched artists have a distinct advantage over the start-ups. I don't see how this can be anything other than terrible, but maybe this lawsuit was just a fluke and won't spawn a million copycats.
10
This ruling was horrible and your convoluted logic of "additional restraints will actually help artists" is flawed. It certainly won't help pop music to be more experimental. Almost by definition, pop music must be familiar or it wouldn't get popular.

All music is derivative. Music produced using the same instruments and the same language are going to have similarities.

I wonder how many bands, on the cusp of making it big, are starting to worry "Now that we are starting to sell some albums I hope it's not a problem that track 4 reminds me of the vibe from that one Steely Dan song." There are copyright holders and lawyers standing at the ready to steal their success.
11
ha! well played.
12
This decision will have exactly zero effect on popular music. It's not like the law changed. One jury took a pretty broad view of what constituted infringement, and it probably helped that the guy accused of stealing intellectual property is a world-class douche and the man he was accused of stealing from is basically a saint. And the jury wouldn't really understand the reasons that the alleged infringer filed suit, so all they see is Thicke stealing from Wonder and then suing him. Think juries don't think about that kind of stuff way more than the legal principles? Think again.
13
Or it will get thrown out on appeal.
14
So you're saying the next Big American Thing will be more Sigur Ros than Motown?
15
Yeah, I hope this sends a message to those millionaires who rely on the brains of others to create their "art."
16
Or maybe, just maybe, we have common patterns in music because people LIKE those patterns. With some of the topics you've touched before, this is a strong statement, but I legitimately believe that this is the stupidest thing I've ever read on the Slog.
17
I guess I really don't consider Robin Thicke a singer.
Nor Pharrelll a singer/songwriter.
Not that I hate music, I am just not into pop, or rap.
18
Contrast this ruling, that anything that sounds like anything else can be sued, to modern Jamaican reggae, where artists are ENCOURAGED to actively sample entire rhythms and create new songs from them. The result? Tons of creative opportunity. Sure, some sounds derivative, but you gotta burn through that to push into more original territory.

But hey! Gotta make money! First! Fuck "art", make a buck!
19
I'm inclined to more or less agree with @12 (apart from the Wonder bit). Up until the verdict, Pharrell's attorneys felt the trial had gone well (the sound recording was excluded and Pharrell called out Gaye's attorney and musicologist for modulating a melody during his examination). The surgery was successful, except the patient died. The lesson of this case may be little more than better to settle and avoid juries.
20
@19 to be clear, I didn't mean that stevie wonder is actually a saint, just that many people have fond memories of his music.
21
@9 "This is sarcasm, no?"

Yes. Slog doesn't have a "Satire" tag, but maybe it needs one, perhaps a flashing tag in fire-engine red. @11 gets it.
22
I hate how people are acting so surprised at this. Plagarism is really common in the music industry. Chances are, some of your favorite songs were stolen. This site has a good list of the more recent ones.
http://www.nobofeed.com/stories/when-pla…
23
Copyright prosecution has also killed quotation as an artistic device in classical and jazz. Not just in popular styles.
24
Everybody has influences, even Marvin Gaye, believe it or not. The Rolling Stones played Chuck Berry songs and gave Chuck Berry writing credits, plus they actively boosted his career, and the careers of many other blues artists like Muddy Waters and BB King. So the analogy of the Stones "ripping off" other artists (that somebody put out there in these comments) is bogus and irrelevant. What artist do today is different that copping a style and capitalizing on it, like the Stones did. Recording artists today sample grooves that someone else has painstakingly created, and add their own soulless crap on top of it, then get all bent out of shape when anyone calls bullshit on it.
25
All of this is wrong not because music was "stolen", it's because Marvin's family claims money for it...that's wrong. Almost every song in the modern world has some influence (or "copy") from past's music. Is just how music evolves...muddy waters, jimi hendrix and many others were great, and after that Stevie Ray Vaughan, Rolling Stones, and many other made music from their idols, and after that, and after that, MANY artists have been doing the same. Let the music evolve, is just how it works.

The law is what needs to change...it it's not an "unauthorized cover" then it isn't wrong...is just music evolving.