The ‘Blurred Lines’ of Copyright Laws

In 2015, musicians, Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams were challenged by the family of Motown legend, Marvin Gaye, in relation to a copyright infringement in their 2013 hit, “Blurred Lines”. The Gaye family claimed that the pair had stolen the tune form Marvin Gaye’s 1977 track “Got to give it up”.

However, following an appeal from the duo, the judge cut their copyright infringement verdict by more than $2 million. This occurred on the basis that  “a ‘groove’ or ‘feeling’ cannot be copyrighted”, as, was argued by Thicke and Williams. This case has transfixed the music world because it raises questions as to when a song can be considered plagiarized and when it merely serves as inspiration.

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Original Meme

The dispute brings about the notion of intellectual property rights. Before copyright anyone could freely copy, modify, or sell content. Before copyright, the notion of property related only to owning land with the thought of owning ideas considered absurd. Now days this is almost impossible, with industries and corporations seeking control over content, ideas and all possible uses of information, rendering the thought of a copyright free world, a thing of the past.

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SoundScan to SoundCloud: Good artists copy; great artists steal

The production of Hip-hop has long been tied to the availability and progression of technology. Transpiring in the Bronx of New York City in the 1970’s, harnessing turntables and microphones, Hip-hop has continued to utilise technological advancements. Technology has allowed for the emergence of Hip-hop as a widely accessible commodity, allowing for user interaction and production of an insurmountable extent.

Remix culture is the encouragement of the combination or editing of existing materials to produce a new product. It is the process whereby content production has become democratised. In terms of Hiphop, the emergence of remix culture has allowed for the rise of break beat culture, EDM and Mashups. The creation of such genres brings about the idea of ‘Technology of self’. Despite being a collaborative process for the most part, Hip-hop production allows the individual to produce content without the interference of record companies or other stakeholders. This individualisation of production elicits a particular aesthetic within Hip-hop that has become extremely popularised.

Original Podcast

In 1991, Mike Fine and Mike Shalett introduced SoundScan. This system implemented a method of tracking record sales. Through this process, we were able to recognise that Hip-hop was on top of the sales charts. Now days, Youtube and Soundcloud allow for the recording of views on tracks uploaded by amateur Hip-hop artists who participate in the process of remixing music to create a completely new sound.