Feedback

Two worlds collide: originality and plagiarism in songwriting

Bennett, J (2013) Two worlds collide: originality and plagiarism in songwriting. In: International Association for the Study of Popular Music (IASPM): biennial conference, 27 June 2013, Gijon, Spain.

Abstract

For a song to attract copyright it must be original. Songwriters therefore need to avoid plagiarism whilst working within the established constraints of song form. Any song that is too similar to another will breach its copyright; one that deviates too far from established norms may not survive the marketplace. Copyright law protects songwriters from accidental or flagrant plagiarism, but it can only protect musical elements that can be codified. Demers argues that this has led to a privileging of melody, lyric and harmony, offering these elements more protection than auditory artefacts such as timbre, production or arrangement. Industrially, ‘song’ and ‘track’ are economically separated but in creative practice - and in the ear of the listener - the distinction is not so easy to make. This paper will explore the difference between song originality as enshrined in case law and will contrast these with examples of homage/copying that have not been shown to infringe copyright. Drawing on the presenter’s own experience as an expert witness musicologist in copyright disputes, it will discuss the moral and legal ambiguity of the dividing line between ‘song’ and ‘track’ and what this means for songwriting’s creative development in the future.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Divisions: College of Liberal Arts
Date Deposited: 16 Jan 2014 13:29
Last Modified: 29 Apr 2016 14:06
URI: http://researchspace.bathspa.ac.uk/id/eprint/1853
Request a change to this item or report an issue Request a change to this item or report an issue
Update item (repository staff only) Update item (repository staff only)