music analysis for copyright matters
How are these songs similar? Is the similarity coincidental, or is there evidence of copying? What is the objective 'extrinsic' level of similarity between the two works? How close is too close?
song similarity and copyright
A musicologist report is a comparison of two or more works to establish the likelihood and extent of possible plagiarism. It can include melodic, lyric, harmony, instrumentation and production analysis, as well as detailed repertoire research to establish the copyright status of the works. Where necessary, consultations can be undertaken before a work is released, to reduce the risk of inadvertent plagiarism, and to recommend musical changes that may be needed in order to avoid perceptions of inappropriate similarity. Music analysis reports are typically used to assist intellectual property attorneys or music publishers in evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of copyright infringement claims, or to rebut spurious accusations of plagiarism. Where needed, reports can be augmented by video walkthrough comparisons, where clients can hear and see the extent of similarities or dissimilarities for themselves. Past clients include law firms, media creators, tech companies, music publishers, record labels, and individual songwriters.
Recent project | "Hip-hop bass" (2023)
A hip-hop producer had composed a short bassline that was coincidentally similar to one in a pre-existing work, and the publishers of the earlier work had expressed some concerns. Dr Bennett used Prior Art research and melodic comparison to demonstrate that the 4-note sequence was a commonplace element in music, and therefore unlikely to be protectable expression in copyright terms. The client was able to dismiss the unfair accusation of plagiarism quickly and without litigation.
Recent project | "EDM vocal" (2021)
In 2021 Dr Bennett was asked to analyze the vocal hooks from a pre-release dance music recording, because the artist's management and publisher had become concerned that it was too similar to an existing EDM hit. The melodic analysis found some matches, probably due to subconscious copying, and so the artist recorded new vocal hooks that were demonstrably different from the earlier work.
Recent project | "Perfume brand" (2020)
An international perfume brand had commissioned some evocative orchestral music for a forthcoming advertising campaign. Although the music was a new composition, it used orchestral arranging techniques that appeared in other works, leading to concerns that the music might contain references to existing compositions in a similar style. Dr Bennett undertook repertoire research to demonstrate that these techniques were common to many works, reassuring the brand's representative that the composer's work was original, and that any potential accusation of plagiarism based on these elements would be unfounded.
Note: Dr Bennett receives many enquiries from songwriters who mistakenly believe that their songs have been copied by major artists, often due to partial similarity between melodies. Such intentional copying, particularly of melody, is rare in the music industry; melodic similarity is more often the result of coincidence. If you would like Dr Bennett to provide a verbal opinion regarding partial similarity, please use the contact form below.