Thursday, May 20, 2021

Music copyright cases seem trickier than they really are (the "This Is America" case)

Kennedy Center 11/2019

Leonard French (Lawful Masses) discusses the lawsuit by “Kidd Wes” aka “Childish Gambino” (“Made in America”) against Donald Glover (“This Is America”) claiming copyright infringement in popular hip-hop songs.

French explains that in music, the basic composite elements are not copyrightable, but the expression of these elements is. 

In classical music, “variations” on other composers’ works are common, and collaborative work is becoming more common among modern musicians earning a living from commissions.

But the potential money at stake in some areas of popular music is huge, which keeps encouraging poorly conceived lawsuits that cost money to litigate but are not based on case law.

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