Ben Sisario, The New York Times ; Stolen or Original? Hear Songs From 7 Landmark Copyright Cases.
"Here is a guide to some of the most consequential music copyright cases in recent decades, along with excerpts from their recordings.
But remember: It can be tricky, and even misleading, to compare recordings alone. In cases like these, the only material in question are the songs’ underlying compositions: the melodies, chords and lyrics that can be notated on paper. Elements specific to the performance captured in a particular recording — like the tempo, or the timbre of an instrument — are irrelevant.
Juries must decide not only if one song copies another, but whether the earlier song was original and distinctive enough to be protected by copyright.
“The problem with cases like this is that people ask the wrong question,” said Joe Bennett, a professor at the Berklee College of Music who works as a forensic musicologist in legal cases. “They ask the question, ‘How similar is song B to song A,’ whereas what they should be asking is how original is song A.”
Got that? In that case, put your headphones on and judge for yourself."
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