Is It Plagiarism?

Discussion in 'Fred's Barcalounge' started by drmilktruck, Mar 20, 2021.

  1. stevo

    stevo Friend of Fred

    May 1, 2012
    "I Can't Quit You" was easy - agree. I tend to think the tough ones are generally what we have in front of us so much today. It used to be generally understood that a beat isn't copyrightable. But with "Blurred Lines", that changed. Chord progressions are officially not protected, but with the number of suits that went the plaintiff's way and it was over a common chord progression that everyone has been playing forever, that's now also fair game.

    Here's one that is worth thinking about:

    It's about a groove if you really get down to it. Apparently, the plaintiffs really think the groove has been stolen. I personally hear a lot of Marvin Gaye in it. But it's derivative, not a copy. This is the ground we're in today.
  2. Gretschtim1

    Gretschtim1 Country Gent

    Dec 4, 2012
    Dundalk, Md
    No. I was just stating that I liked songs such as Ruby Tuesday, Give Me Shelter, Paint It Black, etc. better than the old blues stuff (more my era of music). It was the stuff that caught my ear when I first heard the Stones. Seems like everyone does their version of the blues (me included). It's okay but it kinda gets watered down after a while. When I first heard Paint It Black it was totally new to me. It had an original sound to it that defined The Rolling Stones' original sound. It was their own thing. When I heard them do Route 66 I liked it but it just wasn't unique to me. Same thing when Clapton did the blues. I personally like stuff like White Room and Sunshine Of Your Love better.
  3. Waxhead

    Waxhead Country Gent

    Aug 30, 2014
    yeah seen those before and don't agree any are plagiarism.

    Some lines of lyrics are clearly lifted from others - blame Plant for that but that falls a long way short of musical plagiarism.

    Closest Page goes in those 3 videos is a small lead part from Beck's "Bolero". And both played together in Yardbirds anyway so for all we know it could originally be Page's lead line. I'd leave that one between the 2 old friends :D
  4. juks

    juks Synchromatic

    Nov 26, 2020
    Fremont, California
    Just what is 'stealing a song' exactly is less than clear. As for most any new song you could find an old song with similarities enough to file a suit if you look at some that have been filed in recent years. I appreciate the guys like Tom Petty etc in the video who said, not a problem, I will not sue.
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  5. L Robbins

    L Robbins Gretschie

    May 3, 2017
    I’m a big Tom Lehrer fan.:D
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  6. MotorCentaur

    MotorCentaur Synchromatic

    May 11, 2016

    There's a lot of coincidences there, LOL. Enough for LZ to settle out of court on at least one occasion.
    Waxhead likes this.
  7. Frank_NH

    Frank_NH Synchromatic

    Mar 25, 2013
    Lebanon, NH
    Well, I think they all have been ripping off J.S. Bach - even the blues guys! :D;)

    In fact, Jimmy Page rips off Bach's "Bourree in Em" in the middle of "Heartbreaker" on the live "How the West Was Won" LP! :rolleyes:
    Waxhead likes this.
  8. Getting serious about a fun thread, vs just finding possible examples.

    In turn, I was underscoring:

    Whether you like the song or band is immaterial to whether
    there was theft of intellectual property, or a copyrighted work.

    The premise that any one band or another did so — is not directly pertinent unless there is or was a lawsuit, except conversationally. (Which is weird by itself. Lawsuits matter most of all).

    Liking a band, or defending them on the basis of liking their music doesn’t alter the validity of a claim. Just because they wrote some uncontentious music would not balance the scale.

    Zeppelin was easy, given that they finally settled the Stairway to Heaven tiff with Spirit, after several decades. There was a longstanding bone of contention about several blues songs that were pretty obviously slightly altered & called standalone & new. Many of those were eventually settled too, I think, if only because guys like Otis Rush didn’t have many remaining decades left, but I don’t know the detail.

    Is the suit about Stairway to Heaven substatially different than the one mentioned concerning earlier blues songs?

    There were few rights for some people in the early days of recorded music:
    Lyrically, how many back doors DID the sun shine in?

    Sampling someone’s music, say I screw with “Paint it Black” & then call it new & not derivative even though the whole thing is predicated upon a recognizable song & thus do not owe royalties: where does that stand?

    Everything thar happened before 1960 don’t count. ;)
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2021
  9. Gretschtim1

    Gretschtim1 Country Gent

    Dec 4, 2012
    Dundalk, Md
    Well I can tell you this I've been writing, creating or thinking up songs since I was about 6 or 7 years old. At that time I didn't know what was happening. I would sing melodies my mom would hear me and ask what I was singing and I would say oh I don't know it just came in my head and I would start singing it. Most of the time I would forget it. It's been happening my whole life. I wake up sometimes in the middle of the night with a tune in my head and if I can force myself out of bed I sing it into a recorder so I don't forget it. I don't know where it comes from - a gift from God maybe. I don't know. But I figure after all these years and over a thousand songs, melodies, what ever writing I guess I can consider myself a song writer. I've been through the mill signing bad management deals, bad record deals (the first one in the 80s with Atlantic Records). I even had to buy some of my songs back from a local record company.
    So believe me I take this subject very seriously. I don't like the current trend of sampling riffs and sections of songs and building a Rap record around it. To me that's not talent and it's no more creative than twisted tunes - adding your own words to someone else's melody.
    I don't like the fact that musicians and song writers don't get paid like they use to because of all the free music sites and how the legit ones pay only pennies to the artists while they make millions off of other people's art.
    I think there are lots of great tunes being written today but most of it will never be heard. Mainly because it doesn't fit in with what is suppose to be cool today.
    There's not much the little guy can do to protect himself from the thieves controlling the music business. It really has been going on forever but these days they've found a way to pay the artists even less money than they ever did. Don't get me started on lawyers - they've ruin everything. The medical field, sports, entertainment and congress - they've got their dirty little hands in the destruction of it all.
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2021
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  10. OzzPocket

    OzzPocket Synchromatic

    Aug 11, 2020
    In 1989, I wrote Hotel was summer break from college and I came up with a progression that I thought really sounded cool....couldn't wait to get back and let Rick and Drag (friends/bandmates/collaborators) hear what I had come up with.....I thought it was something really special...

    Summer ended, I got back to school first...Rick arrived next....I had left him probably 10 messages...he called, and I brought my guitar and amp to his apartment...

    I sat down and started playing......he had a huge smile on his face..."That's a good sign, I thought"...he grabs his bass and starts playing along! "Oh man", I thought "This is like meant to be....this is going to be a hit!"

    I play a little more.....finally stop, and say "Dude what do you think?"

    He replies "It's awesome! It's Hotel California!"

    The smile left my face.... "No it's not"

    Rick is beaming "Yeah! It is!....Here, listen!"

    And he puts the record on (yeah, the record)....I listened, and was crushed.....I had worked on it all summer...had lyrics and happens

    Of course, there's a lot of people who say that Hotel California is very similar to Jethro Tull's "Used to Know"

    Anyway....can't talk now....gotta get back to writing Stairway to Heaven....
  11. drmilktruck

    drmilktruck I Bleed Orange

    May 17, 2009
    Plymouth, MN
    My favorite example of iffy lawsuits is that George Harrison lost his lawsuit over My Sweet Lord, when the court ruled that he had committed “unconscious plagiarism. “I would think if it’s unconscious, it seems legally tenuous to hold him accountable. Plus the lawsuit was brought by his former manager, who had bought the rights to the earlier song not long before the lawsuit was filed. Harrison’s attorneys hopefully argued that it should be tossed out due to a huge conflict of interest, given that the manager would’ve had inside information around the recording of My Sweet Lord and anything else that went into it.
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2021
  12. JT19

    JT19 Gretschie

    Nov 28, 2009
    Atlanta, GA
    “Originality is the fine art of remembering what you hear but forgetting where you heard it.” - Laurence J. Peter (the same guy who came up with the Peter Principle)
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  13. knh555

    knh555 Gretschie

    Apr 22, 2019
    Step 1, create an AI-based music generator. Be sure you own the copyright to the code.
    Step 2, create lots of computer-generated music.
    Step 3, create even more (i.e. LOTS) of music such that no one can really come up with something not in this set of music
    Step 4, copyright all of it
    Step 5, sue for copyright infringement every time a new song makes enough money to make a lawsuit worthwhile
    mjm0 likes this.
  14. rcboals

    rcboals Country Gent

    Nov 21, 2008
    Springfield Oregon
    Here is my copyrite violation from someone in Brasil. I see absolutely no similarity to the Eagles at all. :) My comedian monologue 2 minute 10 seconds music starts then. My wife says I'm not funny but I think I am so I ust be, and that is what's important.
  15. Gretschtim1

    Gretschtim1 Country Gent

    Dec 4, 2012
    Dundalk, Md
    The lock down sure has a weird effect on some of us...:D...So much so that I actually liked it...:).
  16. Archtops

    Archtops Synchromatic

    Mar 4, 2021
  17. Xochi2

    Xochi2 Gretschie

    Oct 5, 2020
    Thanks for sharing this link. Like the concepts of; (Influence vs Plagiarism ... plus Interpolation). For me the first song that came to mind was, "I Feel Fine" (1964) by the Beatles, and the "influence" of "Watch Your Step" (1961) Bobby Parker. Of course, that is just the tip of the iceberg with regard to Parker's opening riff, which in itself might have been "influenced" by Ray Charles' "What'd I Say" (1959) or even Dizzy Gillespie's "Manteca" (1947). Plus others, arguably that would follow; "Moby Dick" (1969) by Led Zeppelin, or The Allman Brothers' "One Way Out"...etc.
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  18. Synchro

    Synchro The artist formerly known as: Synchro Staff Member

    Jun 2, 2008
    Admin Post
    It's a murky subject. There are a relative handful of chord changes that comprise the vast majority of songs. The "My Sweet Lord" case was pivotal, and not everyone thinks that it was pivotal in a good way. Yes, the changes and melody were very close for about 8 bars, but there was no way that anyone could confuse the songs. The vibe was different and I doubt that people were likely to have confused one for the other. It's not like Jimmie Mack invented II-V changes. Jimmie Mack's story was tragic, but I can't be convinced that Harrison harmed Jimmie Mack's interests in any way.

    I believe in protection of true intellectual property, but drawing the line where infringement starts is not so easy. If you draw the line at chord changes; well the whole thing would collapse, because it would be easy to demonstrate prior art from songs which precede protection. (To the best of my knowledge, anything before 1923 is automatically public domain.)

    It is impossible to determine the sincerity of a suit to protect a song. If someone takes a song, alters a couple of phrases in the lyrics and plays it verbatim, that might be easy to prove, but such events are rare. The Led Zeppelin and Stones songs are an interesting example. How much change does it take to make a song different. I don't claim to know. Fifty plus years of playing, and a bit of composition under my belt has taught me a bit about song construction and I have a hard time knowing where to draw the lines. A judge and jury with no musical training probably would have far less of a notion.

    Ultimately, as I see it, the answer is like nailing Jello to a wall. For every hard and fast answer, I could come up with exceptions.
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  19. David_GS

    David_GS Electromatic

    Oct 16, 2020
    I liked where he said in the video that it's more than just the notes or chords, some of those examples mimic the tone of the originals as well and that's a little less forgivable. Two examples that come to mind:

    Jet - Are You Gonna Be My Girl:

    And Iggy Pop's Lust for Life:

    This is a band my daughter listens to:

    Reminded me a lot of Sea of Love, although thematically the opposite, which I thought was an interesting touch:
  20. Synchro

    Synchro The artist formerly known as: Synchro Staff Member

    Jun 2, 2008
    Admin Post
    The first two songs have identical rhythmic structures, but the changes are not the same. The second two have some similarity in the chord structure, but that's about it.
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