Permission to copy a sample on a different instrument

Copyright matters affecting music and musicians.
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cmooremusic
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Permission to copy a sample on a different instrument

Post by cmooremusic » Sat Dec 12, 2015 12:17 pm

Hi guys

Just written the majority of a song this morning around a simple staccato piano chord structure.
Just realised that the pattern is very similar to the first part of the "la la la la la" melody sung in the song "Lovin' You" by Minnie Ipperton (can't post link)
If I was to eventually release this song commercially, would I need permission?
I've never actually made any money form music but you never know!

Cheers,
Chris.

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AndyJ
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Post by AndyJ » Sun Dec 13, 2015 12:29 pm

Hi Chris,
It's almost impossible to define the borderline between a small amount of tune which would not infringe a previous work, and what would almost definitely need permission. In most other types of copyright work (literature, drama, art) there is the defence of independent creation - ie you created your work without any prior knowledge of the earlier work, a coincidence. But with music it's very difficult to deploy this argument especially when the previous work is relatively well-known. There is the famous case where George Harrison's song My Sweet Lord was found to have infringed the music of the 1963 Chiffons hit He's So Fine. Harrison was found to have sub-consciously recalled the tune when he composed My Sweet Lord.

On the other hand, there are a number of other cases where coincidence has been found to apply, especially where a riff or small sequence is judged to be fairly commonplace. And then there are the more contentious cases (eg Robin Thicke's Blurred Lines) where many people in the music business feel the courts got it wrong.

Until you decide to publish your song, then there is no problem, but if you do want to publish and avoid any hassle, seeking permission might be prudent. However you may be asked to pay a licence fee, which could make the venture uneconomic, and of course once you've admitted that you think there may be a potential infringement by your request, you are stuck with it. Realistically if you aren't making any money out of your song, no-one is likely to come after you for damages and at most, you (or your hosting platform such as Youtube or Soundcloud) might get a takedown notice which if complied with, would be the end of the matter.
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cmooremusic
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Post by cmooremusic » Sun Dec 13, 2015 1:30 pm

Thank you for your reply Andy.
Yes, it's definitely very difficult to define and I also disagreed with the Blurred Lines case.

Cheers,
Chris.

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Post by cmooremusic » Sat Dec 19, 2015 9:39 am

Hi

I've attached the chord pattern along with as simple drum loop to this forum:

http://forums.songstuff.com/topic/42834 ... nstrument/

I was wondering if you could have a quick listen please and let me know what you think?

Cheers,
Chris.

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AndyJ
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Post by AndyJ » Sat Dec 19, 2015 3:43 pm

Hi Chris,
Unfortunately that link doesn't work for me as it leads to a members only area.
But in any case, my opinion isn't worth having, firstly because I am pretty unmusical, and secondly because, in the unlikely event that this went to court, both sides would need to call musicologists to act as expert witnesses to assist the court.
If you have some musician friends, try getting their reaction.
Advice or comment provided here is not and does not purport to be legal advice as defined by s.12 of Legal Services Act 2007

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