[Smt-talk] Music Plagiarism Cases

Daniel Wolf djwolf at snafu.de
Sun Dec 20 02:32:14 PST 2009

After reading through a number of the astonishing case descriptions at   
http://cip.law.ucla.edu/caselist.html , it becomes fairly clear that,  
whether for contemporary popular genres or in historical repertoires —  
like the Gallant style — with similar caches of commonly-used tropes,  
turns, sequences, progressions, licks and riffs, music theory might do a  
better job of clarifying distinctions between commonly-held,  
style-defining musical materials and innovative uses of these.  It is a  
difficult problem, and an old one (Handel, for example, was simultaneously  
criticized for plagiarism and for his mastery of contemporary styles, the  
latter of which could not have been accomplished without the assimilation  
of elements of music used by colleagues).  The legal opinions collected  
online show a judiciary with precious little expertise in music (albeit  
informed, in many cases, by hired musicological guns shooting every which  
way).   This is definitely a useful line of public research and neutral  
commentary for a music theorist.

Daniel Wolf
composer, Frankfurt

On Fri, 18 Dec 2009 23:21:05 +0100, Benjamin Givan <bgivan at skidmore.edu>  

> Hello,
> It's worth distinguishing between plagiarism and copyright  
> infringement.  The former isn't illegal; the latter is.  The two  
> categories may intersect, but by no means necessarily.

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