[Smt-talk] Music Plagiarism Cases

JAY RAHN jayrahn at rogers.com
Sun Dec 20 11:03:25 PST 2009

Even in Mexico, where, I believe, the term of copyright is a seemingly endless 100 years after the death of the creator, there would be no case of copyright infringement for using Tchaikovsky's music (d. 1893): Plagiarism is not necessarily copyright infringement. As well, there is no 'taking care of' involved in copyright as long as one can establish that one created the work (very easy nowadays with digital date stamping).

As for 'abuse' of a composer's music in TV commercials etc., the other side of 'moral rights' is parody. Would that recent concert music were sufficiently well known to sustain meaningful satire. All the same, a very fine example of stylistic parody is the Webern pastiche that I recall served as a variation on the Powdermilk Biscuits theme several years ago on A Prairie Home Companion.   

Jay Rahn, York University


--- On Fri, 12/18/09, Ildar Khannanov <solfeggio7 at yahoo.com> wrote:

From: Ildar Khannanov <solfeggio7 at yahoo.com>
Subject: Re: [Smt-talk] Music Plagiarism Cases
To: smt-talk at societymusictheory.org, "Robert Judd" <rjudd at ams-net.org>
Date: Friday, December 18, 2009, 7:28 PM

Dear All,
I would like to narrow this question to: "Has anyone compained about massive stealing of music of Pyotr Ilych Tchaikovsky, using and abusing it in TV commercials and movies?" I understand that poor P. I. did not take care of the copyright of his music, but the abuse of it has become simply ridiculous.
Dr. Ildar Khannanov
Professor of Music Theory
Peabody Conservatory
Johns Hopkins University

--- On Fri, 12/18/09, Robert Judd <rjudd at ams-net.org> wrote:

From: Robert Judd <rjudd at ams-net.org>
Subject: Re: [Smt-talk] Music Plagiarism Cases
To: smt-talk at societymusictheory.org
Date: Friday, December 18, 2009, 9:10 AM

This is not as bizarre as Steve Soderberg's batting cage story, but
it's bizarre enough that I feel the need to share.

I got an inquiry some years ago at the AMS office re copyright and the
theme from "Jaws" (rising two-note semitone--who remembers the
"ominous semitone" thread on some e-list way back when?).  The maker
of a novelty "Shark Cookie Jar" that played the theme when the lid was
raised was concerned about the theme and copyright (held by Paramount
Pictures).. Paramount threatened to sue. The case never went to court;
the cookie jar maker changed it to a descending minor third (which I
hear as "nyah nyah").

Bob Judd
rjudd at ams-net.org
Smt-talk mailing list
Smt-talk at societymusictheory.org

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