Out of Tune: Why Copyright Law Needs Music Lessons

B. C. Doagoo, M. Goudreau, M. Saginur, & T. Scassa, eds., Intellectual Property for the 21st Century: Interdisciplinary Approaches, pp. 43-71, Irwin Publishing, 2014

Osgoode Legal Studies Research Paper No. 57/2014

31 Pages Posted: 26 Jul 2014

See all articles by Carys J. Craig

Carys J. Craig

Osgoode Hall Law School, York University, Toronto

Guillaume Laroche

Osgoode Hall Law School; McGill University; Harvard University

Date Written: 2014

Abstract

This chapter offers a critical analysis of copyright law that integrates insights from music. The authors argue that the unique qualities of musical works magnify the mismatch between creative practices and copyright doctrine, and suggest that an interdisciplinary analysis can shine a revealing light on both the problem and potential paths to improvement. Beginning with an overview of copyright doctrine in Canada in respect of musical works and music infringement claims, the authors then borrow analytical concepts from the discipline of music theory to problematize copyright’s “reasonable listener” test for determining substantial copying. Using a specially-designed musical composition, the authors illustrate how and why this test may fail to perform its necessary role in the infringement analysis. The authors conclude by identifying some ways in which the legal analysis could be improved, including a more extensive use of both expert and survey evidence, and greater consideration of the accepted norms and practices of the relevant creative community. The overarching aim of this chapter is to demonstrate the importance of bringing the insights from musical and other creative disciplines to bear on the law of copyright, so that it might more accurately reflect the very practices it is meant to encourage.

Keywords: Copyright, musical works, infringement, substantial similarity, recognizability, public domain, independent creation, ordinary lay listener, expert evidence, music theory, interdisciplinarity

Suggested Citation

Craig, Carys J. and Laroche, Guillaume, Out of Tune: Why Copyright Law Needs Music Lessons (2014). B. C. Doagoo, M. Goudreau, M. Saginur, & T. Scassa, eds., Intellectual Property for the 21st Century: Interdisciplinary Approaches, pp. 43-71, Irwin Publishing, 2014, Osgoode Legal Studies Research Paper No. 57/2014, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2471257

Carys J. Craig (Contact Author)

Osgoode Hall Law School, York University, Toronto ( email )

4700 Keele Street
Toronto, Ontario M3J 1P3
Canada
416 736 5189 (Phone)
416 736 5736 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.osgoode.yorku.ca

Guillaume Laroche

Osgoode Hall Law School ( email )

York University
4700 Keele Street
Toronto, Ontario M3J 1P3
Canada

McGill University ( email )

1001 Sherbrooke St. W
Montreal, Quebec H3A 1G5
Canada

Harvard University ( email )

6 Appian Way
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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