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On April 4, 2024, Tuff City Records sued Universal Music Group over an alleged infringement that dates back to 1992, when Mary J. Blige, just twenty-one years old, released her first top-ten hit, “Real Love.” The complaint, filed in New York, claims “Real Love” infringes on a well-sampled record from 1973, the Honey Drippers (not …

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In broadcast and advertising especially, music producers are frequently asked to write music that mimics in some fashion an existing and perhaps unaffordable piece of music. As I have opined before, soundalikes can be an innocent endeavor; the composer is generally asked to get “close but not too close,” where “too close” is colloquially equivalent …

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“Mr. Musicologist, you’ve got to be kidding,” you say. Yeah, I reckon I must. (Chill out, BeyHiv!) So why is TikTok obsessed with the similarities between Beyonce’s new song and Franklin’s Theme Song? Franklin, the turtle. “Hey, it’s Franklin.” Yep, that one. First, for anyone who’s been under a rock, the first couple of singles …

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Anyone can hear that it’s wrong. A forensic musicologist can tell you why. Everyone hates these commercials, but nobody can ignore them, so props to the creators of the Burger King jingle; the “earworm that’s taken over America.” Ask almost anyone why it’s so “bad” and they’ll say, “It’s because the singer can’t carry a …

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What is a copyright musicologist? The phone rang this morning, and the conversation began: “Hello, Mr. McBrearty, I’m looking for a copyright musicologist. Is that what you do?” I’d never heard the phrase “copyright musicologist” before, but a copyright musicologist is what they were looking for, and most musicologists are not “copyright musicologists” at all. …

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I don’t look forward to the Grammy Awards anymore. I don’t care about the red carpet fashion show and I don’t care about whatever politics, and ideas that some years “make up for” other years’ wrongs, or that there are big picture wrongs to begin with. I’m in no position to take any position on …

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Is Ice Spice’s “In Ha Mood,” copyright infringement? Or just a coincidence? The news of this case came out only hours ago, but here we are taking a cold look and looking for a hot take on the same day! Almost exactly a year after putting out “In Ha Mood,” Ice Spice now faces this …

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For better or worse, who doesn’t love lists? And if you write one “best/worst of the year” article, you somewhat obligate yourself to do it annually. So here are the 5 best and worst music copyright stories of 2023. And 2023 seems like a more important year than most in this regard. At the 2022 …

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“All I Want For Christmas Is You,” depending on what list you read, might be the top Christmas song of all time. And where there’s a hit, there’s a lawsuit, or something like that. Headlines are blaring: “Was Carey inspired by another song of the same name? Did she plagiarize it? Does it infringe?” Let’s …

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Short answer, “No. Not yet.” Not according to this. Two papers came out recently pitting human ears against computer analysis to see which is better at detecting musical similarity, and prompting headlines such as “Are computers really better at judging copyright infringement cases than humans?” and “Artificial Intelligence as a Solution to Unpredictable Musical Copyright …

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