Our past couple of weeks have dealt at least in part with the idea of reusing and transforming existing material into new artistic products, whether the transformations of poetry in the works of Schumann and Schubert to the various versions of ″Roll Over Beethoven″ to hip-hop. Indeed, all music is in conversation with the music that came before it.
For this project, though, we′re going to look at some cases in which legal action was brought in response to the musical ″recycling.″ For this assignment, you′re going to write a position statement in support of one side of a music copyright dispute.
Possible cases include the following popular songs and performers: Sweet Little Sixteen performed by Chuck Berry (1958) / Surfin′ U.S.A. performed by The Beach Boys (1963) He’s So Fine performed by the Chiffons (1963) / My Sweet Lord by George Harrison (1970) Run Through the Jungle by Creedence Clearwater Revival (1970) / Old Man Down the Road by John Fogerty (1984) I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing by the New Seekers (1971) / Shakermaker by Oasis (1994) American Girl by Tom Petty (1977) / Last Nite by the Strokes (2001) Got to Give It Up by Marvin Gaye (1977) / Blurred Lines by Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams (2013)
Students should utilize musical terminology to discuss the similarities and differences between the two songs, basically determining whether you think the songs are similar enough to warrant the lawsuit.
This is a good opportunity to refresh your command of musical vocabulary! Another question to consider is whether you think the similarities you hear are specific enough or are if they are just more general characteristics of the musical style. For example, basic musical components like a 12-bar blues progression or a waltz beat are too general to be copyrighted by themselves.
Additionally, address specific aspects of the case (you will likely need to do a little background research) and/or the musical examples that support your position or complicate your analysis. Your paper should be a minimum of 300 words.