[Smt-talk] Music Plagiarism Cases

Adam Krims Adam.Krims at nottingham.ac.uk
Fri Dec 18 07:29:41 PST 2009

Kyle Adams is quite right about the proliferation of these things, especially in the earlier rap era. A turning point in the process, and probably the best-known case overall within the rap world, was Gilbert O'Sullivan's suit against Biz Markie's use of  "Alone Again Naturally" (Grand Upright v. Warner, 1991). That suit, and many other song-related plagiarism suits, are detailed on this website, which I believe has not yet been mentioned in this thread and could be useful to the original inquirer:
Adam Krims
Adam Krims
Professor of Music Analysis
University of Nottingham


From: smt-talk-bounces at societymusictheory.org on behalf of Kyle adams
Sent: Fri 12/18/2009 14:45
To: richardlewis at fastmail.co.uk; smt-talk at societymusictheory.org
Subject: Re: [Smt-talk] Music Plagiarism Cases

This may not be exactly the same as "plagiarism," but rap artists have been subject to numerous lawsuits over the use of sampled music. Among the most well-known of these are the suit brought by Queen against Vanilla Ice for his sampling "Under Pressure" in "Ice Ice Baby," and the suit brought by the Turtles against De La Soul for their sampling "You Showed Me" in "Transmitting Live from Mars."
Although both of those lawsuits had a great deal of influence on later rappers' decisions whether or not to use sampled music, both were settled out of court. One case that made it all the way to the Supreme Court is the suit brought by representatives of Roy Orbison against the 2 Live Crew for their parody of his song "Pretty Woman" (surprisingly for the 2 Live Crew, this had nothing to do with obscenity). Wikipedia has a pretty good description of the case:

There is also the now-famous cease and desist order brought by EMI on behalf of Paul McCartney against producer Brian Burton (Danger Mouse) for The Grey Album, but I believe this one also never made it into court.
-Kyle Adams
Assistant Professor of Music Theory
Indiana University

--- On Fri, 12/18/09, Richard Lewis <richardlewis at fastmail.co.uk> wrote:

	From: Richard Lewis <richardlewis at fastmail.co.uk>
	Subject: [Smt-talk] Music Plagiarism Cases
	To: smt-talk at societymusictheory.org
	Date: Friday, December 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 <http://us.mc308.mail.yahoo.com/mc/compose?to=ironchicken@jabber.earth.li> 
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