Forensic Musicology

Dr Joe Bennett provides consultancy services to law firms, media companies, music publishers and songwriters, comparing musical works or sound recordings to establish levels of similarity and the likelihood of plagiarism.


  • Musical analysis for copyright infringement
  • Sample detection
  • TV, film and and advertising consulting

Music analysis for copyright infringement

A musicologist report is a comprehensive 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 in evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of copyright infringement claims. Where needed, reports can be augmented by a password-protected website with audio, where clients can hear the extent of similarities or dissimilarities for themselves. Past clients include law firms, media creators, tech companies, music publishers, record labels, and individual songwriters.

Sample detection

Sample detection is the practice of establishing whether audio from an earlier recording has been used as part of a later one. The recordings are imported into music software for visual analysis and critical listening; methods include spectrogram analysis (‘graphs’ of the musical content), waveform comparison, tempo and pitch matching, and research/discussion of creative processes. Past clients include law firms, media companies, record labels, beat-makers/hip-hop artists, and music producers.

TV, film and advertising consulting

Where bespoke music is used with the moving image, it is often required to create deliberate cultural allusions. Directors may have a style, artist or composition in mind when commissioning a composer, and musicologist reports can assist both parties in ensuring that the cultural allusion is preserved without inadvertently infringing the copyright of a particular work. Past clients include law firms, ad agencies, film/TV production companies, music libraries, and individual media composers.


A report typically takes 5-7 days, but for urgent projects it is possible to provide a phone or email consultation that same day. Joe Bennett is based at Berklee College of Music in Boston, USA.


Describe your consulting needs below, and someone will get back to you within 24 hours.

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