Contributing writer for The Artifice.
Junior Contributor I
On the boundaries of the derivative in pop music
The "Blurred Lines" lawsuit has (pun definitely intended) blurred the lines of how copyright can and should be interpreted and enforced in the popular music world. Popular music of all kinds has for generations been predicated on iteration, from the transmutation of blues into rock and roll, vocal jazz into soul, and on and on. The precedent that a song can be marked as theft because of similar "feel" is one that may cross from a defense of intellectual property into one that has a chilling affect on creative extension of our shared musical heritage (particularly for up and coming musicians who have no resources to fight off a potential copyright claim). How is our culture defining these legal boundaries, and has this process become inherently unfair to those musical artists who are young (ie not in the baby boom generation that notoriously owns much in our copyrighted cultural landscape, since they came up alongside the new mechanical media that enabled mass-marketing of musical works), and without financial resources to defend against such suits? Was "Blurred Lines" genuinely too derivative of Marvin Gaye’s work, or is this a case of judicial overreach?