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Should we be worried...?

Tue Mar 10, 2015, 10:05 PM


Yep, pretty sure the whole entire world knows at this point about the verdict for the "Blurred Lines" dispute between Robin Thicke, Pharrell Williams and Marvin Gaye's children. The jury has gone in favor of the family, and Rob & 'Rell have to cough up about $7.3 million as a result. :money: 

With concerns to this whole thing, I never really was a fan of the song's lyrics, but the music composition was fairly tight due to the fact it did indeed derive its influences from Marvin Gaye's timeless music style. I've heard Marvin Gaye's "Got to Give it Up" since before I could remember anything... (It's my mom's #1 clean-up jam, nothing gets the job done quicker than listening to the song in its entirety!)

However, I know I'm going to ruffle some feathers when I admit, I do not like the way things have turned out at all. I feel the verdict will do nothing but open a floodgate of more issues for up-and-coming (and possibly already established) composers and musicians, especially considering we live in a lawsuit-happy society in this current age.

Looking at it from a musician's standpoint (as I've also had to explain to my folks upon their delight in hearing the verdict themselves), there are so many songs in existence, it's almost impossible for anyone to be completely original with anything. Something's always been derived or influenced by a  musical predecessor (because if that weren't the case, NONE of the genres that exist today would have come to be)... it's just not everyone does it as blatantly as these two have and hit big with it. As a result of this whole fiasco going down, the jurors have basically agreed that any sort of variation of a theme in music (whether in chord structure, rhythm, note inversions... even something so simple as putting the melody of "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" in reverse order, which is known as a "retrograde") is now considered a form of copyright infringement.

Honestly, I'd probably feel more inclined to side with the family if it wasn't for what I learned in college... but whether folks realize it or not, music is going to (or for some folks already is to) a point that some songs that even exist now already have some similar rhythms, chord structures, and even melodies at some point in their play-throughs. (Ever heard of "www.soundsjustlike.com/"? Yup... see what I'm getting at here now?)

I could sit here at my laptop typing a whole music theory analysis between the two pieces in question and point out that although they do share the same influence (Marvin Gaye's signature groove), they're theoretically two different songs in both chord structure, key, and note variations from a music theorist's standpoint... but even if I attempted to do such, there wouldn't be too many folks that would get it or bother to read it anyways... what seems to matter in this case is that no matter how hard people try to explain the differences, the average listener is only going to hear that one glaring similarity between the two songs (the overall rhythm and recognizable groove) and consider it an outright copycat regardless... despite the fact that there aren't any outright audio samples of the original song included in the "Blurred Lines" track... Shrug 

I really do sense whether people brush it off as "not going to affect anything in the music industry", it already has, mainly due to the issue of the moolah... big money. When they see folks either intentionally or unintentionally ripping them off, they're going to either silence them (*coughcough GOOGLETUBE & SOUNDCLOWNhackwheeze*) or sue them for all they can get. This just gives them yet one more little item they'll be able to get over on any composers now, and unfortunately it could very well affect those who unknowingly have similar styles and don't realize it until someone brings the links together. It's past time to face it... the music industry lost any sort of creativity when copyright laws started gearing more and more in favor of the big companies, not the musicians, singers, and other creatively inspired folks out there who actually care about entertaining their audiences over who's making a cover of their song with their karaoke instrumentals and flagging their uploads...

Don't get me wrong I'm all for going through the proper protocol and crediting every influence on works, because I do believe the people who worked hard to make them deserve to be recognized for it and have more traffic go their way for better exposure... but now days, it feels so overbearing to the point that even simple remixed song covers are in the bulls-eye, whether the original audio was used or not... it sucks all of the joy out of something that felt (to me at least) fulfilling when people wanted to show their love for what you make without having that fear of the shadows of big-name record labels stalking video or audio sharing sites.

It's one of the main reasons why I turned to the budding VOCALOID franchise as a breath of fresh air... even though at times I do cover songs that are and aren't VOCALOID originals from time to time, I'm still trying to work out my own songs. And now with all of this coming up, I'm literally nervous... I worked hard with what I composed since a lot of it was spur-of-the-moment motives that got stuck in my head, but I know that a select few of my tracks actually do have some inspirations from other songs I've listened to, despite them not being exact copies of such... does that make me any less creative and original? I guess that's left up to listeners if I ever get around to completing and publishing them...

Anyways, I know a good number of folks didn't really care for the song, nor do a number of the nay-sayers really care for either of the two men... but I can't help but feel there are going to be so many more instances of "so-and-so copied what's-their-face's style, they're a thief, sue them, SUE THEM!!!1!!" :omgnoes: happening now that this whole case has come to a close in such a way. At this rate, it wouldn't surprise me if someone proposed to create websites like they do with essay/thesis plagiarism checking, only strictly dedicated for music...
Oh... wait... there IS such a thing already. Facepalm 

This is definitely the sign there's just no room for folks to accept coincidences anymore without screaming copyright infringement. Sure, the aforementioned case was no coincidence seeing as they did want to use Marvin Gaye's noted style in some form of tribute to the late singer/composer/songwriter, but I can't tell ya how many times I've seen "this song sounds like X's" in a number of audio comments for peoples' songs, and imply that they did it purposefully, when in fact a lot of people who claim such are completely unaware that a vast majority of songs follow variations of basic chord structures that have been taught and used in popular music for literally centuries. Folks are either adding more chord changes to them, or just re-arranging the order. Most of the time, it's dependent on what sounds good at the time to fit the purpose of the song being composed.

Moral of the story: Different songs sounding the same is inevitable, folks... it's only because technology has advanced so far that it's become so much more obvious to a larger number of people than before. I don't say this as an excuse for purposeful inspiration usage, but due to the fact that people are going to jump the gun and point fingers as soon as they hear similarities between to songs that originally had no influence on each other whatsoever... you know it's coming, and it's going to happen to some more well-known popular songwriters/composers sooner than later. :saddestthingintheworld

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