The music industry has, for a long time, grappled with the issue of copyright infringement, and some high-profile musicians within the fraternity have themselves fallen foul of this law. Some A-list musicians who have been saddled with legal suits relating to copyright infringements are “Shake It Off” singer Taylor Swift,Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams.
In November 2015, a copyright infringement suit brought against Taylor Swift by Jessie Braham was dismissed by a California Judge. Jessie Braham had sued the pop star for using his lyrics in her “Shake It Off” song. Pharrell William and Robin Thicke, on the other hand, were found guilty by a jury of using lines in Marvin Gaye’s 1977 hit ‘Got to Give It Up’, and a whopping $7.4 million was awarded to Gaye’s children.
While many of these suits eventually result in huge payouts and prolonged legal battles, some industry players have argued such legal suits risk stifling creativity within the industry. If no one can reinvent the wheel, how can one be expected to create something from nothing? Every artist is inspired by another artist and it is not uncommon for an experienced artist to mentor a not-so-experienced artist.
As the debate continues on how best to resolve this issue, ‘Shake It Off’ singer Taylor Swift appears to have offered a solution. Her recent single ‘Look What You Made Me Do’, which has been dubbed by some as the most bizarre musical collaborations of the year, credits British band Right Said Fred as co-writers.
Clearly, Swift has had her fair share of law suits and is determined to ward off any copyright law suits this time. The chorus of Taylor Swift’s new single appears to have the same rhythmic pattern as Right Said Fred’s song ‘I’m Too Sexy’. The fact that her team reportedly reached out to the British band before the release of this single will most certainly prevent any legal suits from them. In a tweet, Right Said Fred wrote: “Thank you Taylor Swift, what a marvellous reinvention!”
In the present climate, there is evidence most established musicians will be reluctant to sue fellow musicians for similarities in a song, and this makes good sense. There is no telling when they may also be sued for using someone else’s lyrics. Musicians and music producers who notice similarities when composing or producing songs should take a cue from Taylor Swift as this could spare them much pain later.