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Thread: The Legal Loophole that may leave some of rock's greatest riffs up for grabs

  1. #1
    Outraged bystander markwoll's Avatar
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    The Legal Loophole that may leave some of rock's greatest riffs up for grabs

    Further fallout from the (im)famous Stairway to Heaven guitar riff copyright infringement trial.
    Music copyright before 1978 was registered by depositing a copy of the song on sheet music at the US Library of Congress
    It seems that the 'deposit copy' sheet music at the Library of Congress for Spirit's Taurus and LZ's Stairway to Heaven do not contain the notes that were said to be infringed upon.
    According to the article, this may open other pre-1978 music up to copying without infringement, depending on the quality of the deposit copy music notation.

    2019 classic rock riffs loophole

    As a bonus, there is a selection of DIY mashups of classic rock riffs.
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  2. #2
    Member Emeritus (A.M.P.) rcarlberg's Avatar
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    Errr.... Probably Steve F. can illuminate here, but I don't believe the article is correct. Copyright doesn't only depend on written sheet music. There are mechanical copyrights which protect the recording -- not just the notes -- so that people doing sampling are required to acknowledge their sampling and pay accordingly.

    And there's a vast 'gray area' in copyrighting notes. There are only so many combinations of the twelve notes in the Western scale, and LOTS of songs sound like other songs. You can copyright a melody, but if it's only a couple of notes -- or a repeating pattern -- or a beat -- or a lyric about the Moon in June -- copyright issues get much more murky. That whole Taurus / Stairway dispute is a load of malarky. Nobody could dispute that Page created a whole new song, regardless of whether the opening notes sound very familiar. It's a new composition, not a lift. Some lawyers are trying to make themselves some money by attacking a very successful band, and it's bullshit.

  3. #3
    Mechanical copyright, if I recall correctly, only covers the specific peformance, which is why an orchestra can copyright a recording of a Beethoven symphony. The actual notes are not subject to copyright as a result of mech.cpr.
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    Man of repute progmatist's Avatar
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    And then there's "Happy Birthday," for which unentitled royalties were paid for decades, until SCOTUS put an end to that.
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