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
31 Pages Posted: 26 Jul 2014
Date Written: 2014
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
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