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Music Copyright Infringement Resource

“Absolutely wonderful stuff…a unique and irreplaceable service to copyright students and teachers. Bravo.”

Robert A. Gorman
Kenneth Gemmill Professor of Law, Emeritus, U. Penn. Law School

“A great contribution to copyright scholarship and teaching.”

Paul Goldstein
Stella W. and Ira S. Lillick Professor of Law, Stanford Law School
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This resource provides information about music copyright infringement cases from the mid-nineteenth century​ forward in the U.S. and, to an increasing extent, in foreign jurisdictions.




Jonathan Huber (Hannover), Daniel Müllensiefen (London, Hannover) and Reinhard Kopiez (Hannover) published their excellent article: “From the ‘hackneyed phrase’ to ‘creative originality’. An analysis of German court decisions concerning music plagiarism disputes between 1966 – 2020.”* (A brief abstract in English follows the article’s text in German.) 

*Von der „armseligen Allerweltsfloskel“ zur „schöpferischen Eigenart“. Eine Analyse deutscher Gerichtsentscheidungen zu Plagiaten in der Musik von 1966 bis 2020. Die Musikforschung Vol. 72, No.2 (2023).


Ethnomusicologist Daniel Atkinson has provided us a copy of his book chapter* on the life and career of George “Nash” Walker, arguably the most popular minstrel show performer in the postbellum south.  In the 1890s Walker worked with Bert Williams, author of the music of “Ma Angeline,” the complaining work in Broder v. Zeno Mauvais (1898), with whom he successfully negotiated the rebarbative Jim Crow era. Atkinson mentions that Walker’s “signature hit” was “Bon Bon Buddy,” curiously enough, one of the works the defendant in Hein vs. Harris (1923) identified as exculpatory “prior art.”

*George “Nash” Walker: The Unsung Favorite Son of Lawrence Kansas. Embattled Lawrence: The Enduring Struggle for Freedom, Edited by Dennis Domer, (Lawrence, KS., Watkins Museum of History, 2022), 126-137.


Previous news …

Panel Discussion:

Don’t Fence Me In!

Metes and Bounds of Copyrightable Musical Expression

Sponsored by Davis Wright Tremaine.

The content and means of production of musical works continually evolve. Copyright infringement claims increasingly intimate that the scope of protectable musical expression should simultaneously evolve and expand to accommodate these developments. Is such an expansion legitimate and desirable, or should we consider the metes and bounds of copyrightable musical expression immutable, unaffected by a work’s genre, or when or how it was created?


HERE is a link to an AV recording of the discussion. April 19, 2023.


Musician Chris Dalla Riva, who works on analytics and personalization at popular music streaming service Audiomack, published an excellent article, “One Song, Many Writers,” in the online publication Tedium. Here he discusses the creeping authorship attribution of pop songs to veritable teams of writers, performers, and producers, and how this development reflects changes in the creation and content of popular songs. Tedium also published Dalla Riva’s equally interesting piece on the narrowing harmonic range of popular songs, and The Economist published his obliquely related observations on the diminishing length of popular works.


Conference: Music Copyright Infringement; Global Perspectives (March 2022)

Foreign (non-U.S.) cases

Katherine Leo’s (J.D.; Ph.D. musicology) book (2020) on the evolving role of “forensic musicologists” in litigating music copyright infringement disputes.

Gary Rosen’s Adventures of a Jazz Age Lawyer: Nathan Burkan and the Making of American Popular Culture (University of California Press 2020) & Unfair to Genius; The Strange and Litigious Career of Ira B. Arnstein (Oxford University Press, 2012)

Disgraceful denouement in the “Blurred Lines” dispute

Music Modernization Act

Creative thinking about musical similarity 


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