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Programmer/Lawyer with music degree tackles copyright infringement issues

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Programmer/Lawyer with music degree tackles copyright infringement issues

Postby Eddy Deegan » Fri Feb 28, 2020 12:54 am

We know that fragments of a song can be used to sue other musicians who, whether inadvertently or otherwise, have used recognizably similar fragments.

This chap decided to generate pretty much every possible 8-note melody that can be created using the standard scales in a specific octave, remove a bunch of 'already taken' melodies from the result set, copyright the remainder and then put them into the public domain.

And he's done it. They are working on expanding the dataset to more notes now. It's a bit of an experiment to demonstrate how daft the law can be and to see how it responds to this. It's an interesting talk:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sJtm0MoOgiU

... and the datasets are available here:

http://allthemusic.info/
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Re: Programmer/Lawyer with music degree tackles copyright infringement issues

Postby Folderol » Fri Feb 28, 2020 8:04 am

That's going to upset quite a few people :thumbup: :lol: :bouncy:
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Re: Programmer/Lawyer with music degree tackles copyright infringement issues

Postby Sam Spoons » Fri Feb 28, 2020 12:05 pm

Mostly other lawyers :D
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Re: Programmer/Lawyer with music degree tackles copyright infringement issues

Postby CS70 » Fri Feb 28, 2020 1:48 pm

What people forget about these things is that law is not made to be literal, but it is subject to interpretation (by the judiciary though, not everyone) and specifically taking in account the spirit behind the text.

I doubt any claim based on such a database would stand up in any court. And if the problem truly arose and became an issue, it would be quickly dealt with by adding a single line to the existing law text.

When laws are made, the lawmakers try (more or less) to take in account all the cases but it's a given that if the situation changes ,the law is gonna be amended or a new one created to replace it. Since there are literally billions of things on which it would be possible to legislate, which laws are actually picked up depend only on how important or relevant is the problem - it's the meaning of "politics".
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Re: Programmer/Lawyer with music degree tackles copyright infringement issues

Postby Martin Walker » Fri Feb 28, 2020 2:14 pm

Bravo!!! :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap:


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Re: Programmer/Lawyer with music degree tackles copyright infringement issues

Postby Sam Spoons » Fri Feb 28, 2020 3:04 pm

It's difficult to see how 'justice' is served by somebody claiming credit for a short snippet of melody which happened to be present in a hit song and then being able to claim a substantial percentage of the income from the hit song. Sure it's very grey rather than black and white but either way the main beneficiaries are the lawyers.

I like what he says, makes perfect 'common' sense to me but then when has 'common sense' ever played a part in the legal system.......
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Re: Programmer/Lawyer with music degree tackles copyright infringement issues

Postby N i g e l » Fri Feb 28, 2020 4:21 pm

CS70 wrote:What people forget about these things is that law is not made to be literal, but it is subject to interpretation (by the judiciary tough, not everyone) and specifically taking in account the spirit behind the text.

It is very difficult ! Take theft. Its been happening for 1000's of years but the law has recently been updated in the UK after a judge gave a burglar a 10 year sentance for stealing a banana.

Previously : the Theft Act 1968 states that: 'A person is guilty of theft if he dishonestly appropriates property belonging to another, with the intention of permanently depriving the other of it

The burglar had helped himself to a banana from the fruit bowl of a large country house while on the job, thus depriving the owner of it permenantly.

He had also taken a priceless painting from the house which he had hung on his own wall but as "he had just borrowed it and was going to return it after a year" it wasnt theft.
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Re: Programmer/Lawyer with music degree tackles copyright infringement issues

Postby CS70 » Fri Feb 28, 2020 8:49 pm

N i g e l wrote:It is very difficult ! Take theft. Its been happening for 1000's of years but the law has recently been updated in the UK after a judge gave a burglar a 10 year sentance for stealing a banana.

A 10 years sentence for stealing a banana (without further qualification) doesn't sound real.
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Re: Programmer/Lawyer with music degree tackles copyright infringement issues

Postby blinddrew » Fri Feb 28, 2020 9:52 pm

CS70 wrote:When laws are made, the lawmakers try (more or less) to take in account all the cases but it's a given that if the situation changes ,the law is gonna be amended or a new one created to replace it. Since there are literally billions of things on which it would be possible to legislate, which laws are actually picked up depend only on how important or relevant is the problem - it's the meaning of "politics".
I dispute the accuracy of this. Laws are frequently made my people who accept campaign funds to pass those laws. The reality of the new technologies, operating paradigms, and even the original purpose of surrounding legislation are ignored as long as lobbying groups continue to press for the extension of existing benefits and monopolies.
Personally I agree that it's unlikely to stand in court, but only because too many vested interests won't allow it to. But the main purpose of the exercise was to show how nuts the current situation has become.
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Re: Programmer/Lawyer with music degree tackles copyright infringement issues

Postby Sam Spoons » Fri Feb 28, 2020 10:06 pm

In practice it will only be useful if you can run the algorithm on your own melody and get a definitive answer as to whether it has already been used or not. That would involve comparing it to the database and would require sufficient tech skills to generate a midi/text/notation file which the system can use. I'd guessot that difficult for many on here but not trivial to many musicians.
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Re: Programmer/Lawyer with music degree tackles copyright infringement issues

Postby CS70 » Sat Feb 29, 2020 11:30 am

blinddrew wrote:Laws are frequently made my people who accept campaign funds to pass those laws. The reality of the new technologies, operating paradigms, and even the original purpose of surrounding legislation are ignored as long as lobbying groups continue to press for the extension of existing benefits and monopolies.

Well, that's the meaning of politics as well :)

All I'm saying is that if it becomes a pressing problem, it will be at some point selected for (re)legislation.

What makes something become pressing, is a different discussion.

There's lots of reasons for which something ends up in the legislative agenda, and being important to the electorate is undoubtedly one of them.. but probably not the most frequent. Simply because most people don't have an opinion on most things unless you ask, I'd say..
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Re: Programmer/Lawyer with music degree tackles copyright infringement issues

Postby blinddrew » Sat Feb 29, 2020 11:34 am

I'm not going to disagree there! :)
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Re: Programmer/Lawyer with music degree tackles copyright infringement issues

Postby Mike McLoone » Sun Mar 01, 2020 1:51 pm

Eddy Deegan wrote: remove a bunch of 'already taken' melodies from the result set, copyright the remainder and then put them into the public domain.

However since let's say less well known music was already released and therefore copyrighted (i.e. my own stuff), and not included in this "already taken" data set, it would mean that my melodies are in there somewhere, and now I can sue this guy for attempted copyright infringement?

While it is a bold statement, I think he may have left himself open to more problems than he considered. Especially from countries where the "no win, no fee" Lionel Hutz type prevail.
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Re: Programmer/Lawyer with music degree tackles copyright infringement issues

Postby Sam Spoons » Sun Mar 01, 2020 7:31 pm

I was listening to Roger Waters on Desert Island Discs this morning and his first record was "Helpless" by Neil Young. The melody is incredibly simple, mostly comprising of descending me, re, do phrases. Surely somebody has done this before? If so why haven't they sued Neil Young?
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Re: Programmer/Lawyer with music degree tackles copyright infringement issues

Postby Sam Spoons » Sun Mar 01, 2020 7:34 pm

Mike McLoone wrote:
Eddy Deegan wrote: remove a bunch of 'already taken' melodies from the result set, copyright the remainder and then put them into the public domain.

However since let's say less well known music was already released and therefore copyrighted (i.e. my own stuff), and not included in this "already taken" data set, it would mean that my melodies are in there somewhere, and now I can sue this guy for attempted copyright infringement?

While it is a bold statement, I think he may have left himself open to more problems than he considered. Especially from countries where the "no win, no fee" Lionel Hutz type prevail.

Isn't the settlement usually awarded as a share of the income from the infringing record/song? There might be a risk from somebody counter suing if they had a hit with one of his 'unused' melodies that subsequently proved to have 'prior' but little or none from his putting them in the public domain.
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