[Smt-talk] Music Plagiarism Cases

Stephen Guy Soderberg ssod at loc.gov
Fri Dec 18 06:26:41 PST 2009

The most bizarre (or is it bazaar?) case I know of was when the John
Cage Trust sued Mike Batt formerly of the Wombies over an album track
consisting of one minute of silence.  Batt was upfront that it was a
tribute to Cage, but the Trust claimed plagiarism of 4'33" and sued. 
Probably his mistake was listing the authorship of the track as
"Batt/Cage" (heh, get it?)  You all probably think I'm making this up,
but it's easy to search the web for info on this case and a quick
summary is here: http://www.out-law.com/page-2978.  Evidently Batt
settled for six figures!!  Well, after all... he DID quote 25% of the
work note-for-note. 8-P
[Personally, I would have paid the settlement in mushrooms.]

But seriously... I mean — well — that was  serious I guess —

For the kind of research you appear to be after, you might try emailing
the Law Division of the Library of Congress for relevant cases in the
U.S. & possibly more.  Just start by going here:

— Steve Soderberg
Music Division
Library of Congress

>>> Richard Lewis <richardlewis at fastmail.co.uk> 12/18/2009 7:22 AM >>>
Dear SMT,

This question may be better directed at law scholars, but a colleague
is interested in finding cases of music plagiarism which have been
heard in court (in any country, but English or German proceedings will
be easiest to read). Anyone know of any?

Richard Lewis
ISMS, Computing
Goldsmiths, University of London
Tel: +44 (0)20 7078 5134
Skype: richardjlewis
JID: ironchicken at jabber.earth.li 
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