Has the “Blurred Lines” case put creativeness in jeopardy?

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…We were able to play excerpts of the music and compare it to “Blurred Lines” and show that the taking was strikingly similar, that it was the same notes, that it was, nearly identical, — bass, keyboard, vocal melodies, harmony, same structure and the jury saw that and they heard it.

– Richard Busch




Pharrell says,

However, there was no copyright infringement and that’s what our case was about. It wasn’t about inspiration. As much as we can argue about that and as much as I feel like inspiration is a freedom and it is something that should be fought for and we will fight for inspiration, the funny thing is that’s not what this case is about. This case was about copyright infringement and 3 out of 22 notes does not denote copyright infringement, interpolation, sample any of the above. It’s the law and so we believe that the law will be upheld, so we’re not worried.

– Pharrell Williams



I’m actually torn between the two, I hear the similarities and I hear the differences. Regarding copyright law there is an actual legal term called “Substantial Similarity” which is often used in cases like this to see if actual copyright infringement has occurred.

Wikipedia, which sites multiple legitimate and legal sources states,

In U.S. copyright law, substantial similarity is the standard used to determine whether a defendant has infringed the reproduction right of a copyright. The standard arises out of the recognition that the exclusive right to make copies of a work would be meaningless if infringement was limited to making only exact and complete reproductions of a work.[1][page needed] Many courts also use “substantial similarity” in place of “probative” or “striking similarity” to describe the level of similarity necessary to prove copying has occurred.[2] A number of tests have been devised by courts to determine substantial similarity. These may rely on one or both of expert or lay observation and may subjectively judge the feel of a work or critically analyze its elements…

So it is clear in copyright law that music does not have to be identical to prove infringement.  To answer the original question in the title of this post, I do not feel that this case puts creativeness in jeopardy. In fact I feel the opposite, I believe it will force people to become more creative and perhaps blur the lines (pun intended) of different genre’s to achieve a new sound that is substantially different, more than it is substantially similar.

What are your thoughts?


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