Laidback Luke Speaks Out Regarding Copyright Infringement In The Music Industry
"This is not a debate about the validity of 'Blurred Lines' as a creative work, but the validity of creating new music in itself."
Generally, electronic music is considered to be one of the most diverse genres of music out there due to its ability to complement almost any non-electronic genre. As EDM continues to dominate the current generation, we are witnessing an increasing trend of ghost producers, pre-recorded sets and the worst of them all – copyright infringement. While it's been a prevailing issue for years now, there is truth in the statement that copyright infringement is becoming an even bigger problem within the music industry.
Considered an elite within the electronic dance music genre and having experienced both sides of the copyright infringement battle, Laidback Luke felt compelled to speak out on the issue. The revered DJ and producer offered up his two cents via Billboard as he responded to the “Blurred Lines” matter between Pharrell Williams, Robin Thicke and Marvin Gaye.
In recent efforts to bring justice, Marvin Gaye’s 1977 classic song “Got To Give It Up” was brought to the attention of the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, California as the 2013 hit track “Blurred Lines” shares a fair number of similarities to be considered an original piece. Compare the two tracks yourself below:
Although he's now a major player in the industry, Laidback Luke admits he too has been guilty of copyright infringement along his path to success. After finding a 12" filled with what seemed like a capellas free for the taking, this actually ended up costing him roughly $30,000 after the creator and owner of the a capellas stepped forward to claim the rights to their music. The owner of the a capellas, Victor Simonelli decided to take action against Luke for music theft.
Fast forward a few years to his mega-collaboration with Steve Angello "Be," and Luke found himself on the other side of copyright infringement. The Black Eyed Peas' 2009 track "Boom Boom Pow" appeared to resemble the Angello and Laidback Luke 2008 collaboration a little too much. While the two pursued a lawsuit, they ended up retracting the case in the end.
"We learned there is a very fine line between knowing your music has been used and being able to prove it."
In his op-ed, he noted that the drive behind the music industry has drastically shifted from passion of the arts to monetary value. Laidback Luke stated that music production can be a tricky business as it is tremendously difficult to prove copyright infringement: "There's no concrete set of rules to define sample use, so it comes down to much academic pondering by judges who may or may not understand the technicalities of music productions. Whoever has deeper pockets to keep litigation going to its final outcome often prevails."
In the current music industry, the debate remains whether inspiration replaces credit and recognition. While some artists might be completely straight-forward and admit the music they produced carries a strong influence from another track, this is in no way a proper form of compensation. Artists seeking proper "compensation" through litigation often wind up walking away with money rather than credit. The problem with this is that artists are caring more about how much money they earn from works rather than the distribution of or credit for the material.
Unfortunately, spearheads of the electronic dance music movement including Diplo, A-Trak, Avicii and many more have identified the current state of EDM as boring and uncreative due to the decrease of passion and increase of commercialism. Luke poses the burning and yet elusive question of when the production process goes from original content to copyright infringement: "Unless we somehow invent new notes, the progressions that we can make are not infinite. The notes themselves have never been copyrighted, so how many notes does it take to claim it as a copyrighted sample?"
"The 'Blurred Lines' verdict does stop us in our tracks (literally) for a moment to think and be more cautious. Maybe it can trigger musicians to be more unique, and really get creative?"
You can read Laidback Luke's full op-ed via Billboard here.
Cover photo via Wantickets