YouTube Analysis: Public Views on Music Copyright Law

Public Views on Music Copyright Law
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Analyzing YouTube Discussions on Flame v Perry’s ‘Dark Horse’ Case

In this qualitative content analysis, 59 YouTube videos were scrutinized to explore public discourse surrounding music copyright law.

Key Findings

The study reveals the depth of engagement among YouTube creators with intricate aspects of copyright law. Disagreement persists on the interpretation of the ‘substantial similarity’ test. A prevailing concern emerges: the expansive protection of commonplace musical elements, which many argue should remain accessible to all. Notably, individuals from a music background express heightened apprehension on these matters, often culminating in a verdict of no copyright infringement. Moreover, doubts regarding the law’s capacity to deliver impartial judgments were widely articulated.

Contextualizing Copyright Law

The contemporary spotlight on copyright law stems from several high-profile music cases. Prominently, the litigation against Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke’s ‘Blurred Lines’ instigated a series of substantial lawsuits, including Marcus Gray’s claim against Katy Perry for ‘Dark Horse,’ and the more recent dispute involving Ed Sheeran’s ‘Shape of You.’

The ‘Blurred Lines’ Precedent

The ‘Blurred Lines’ lawsuit, while spotlighting renowned musicians, drew widespread criticism. A unanimous jury decision held ‘Blurred Lines’ accountable for infringing upon Marvin Gaye’s ‘Got to Give it Up,’ resulting in a $5.3 million penalty. Dissenting voices, typified by Justice Nguyen, lamented the judgment for punishing ‘inspiration’ as ‘copying,’ fostering concerns about copyrighting musical styles and setting an unfavorable precedent. Critics question the subjective nature of the ‘substantial similarity’ test, advocating for clearer guidelines.

Challenges to Copyright Foundations

Copyright’s fundamental tenets remain fiercely debated, plagued by non-compliance and disputes over its justification. While protecting creativity remains its core objective, the manner and extent of this protection spark contentious debates. Advocates propose a pluralistic approach to accommodate diverse stakeholders’ interests, especially pertinent in the context of evolving music consumption and production dynamics.

Public Perception of Copyright Law

Understanding public perceptions of copyright law, particularly in music, illuminates critical challenges, especially in the context of Trademark Registration. Studies demonstrate the public’s capacity for deliberative discourse on intricate legal matters, showcasing YouTube as a platform for gauging reactions to copyright infringements. This intersection between public perception and legal intricacies underscores the importance of comprehending the role of Trademark Registration in safeguarding creative assets within the music industry.

The ‘Dark Horse’ Case

Central to this analysis is the ‘Dark Horse’ case, where Marcus Gray accused Katy Perry of replicating an eight-note ostinato from his song ‘Joyful Noise.’ Despite a jury’s initial ruling in Gray’s favor, Judge Snyder overturned the decision, citing the elements as common building blocks of music ineligible for protection. This case notably delved into the intricate two-part substantiality test under US copyright law, emphasizing the need for precision in legal assessments.