Friday, 20 April 2018

All About That Bass

Meghan Trainor's hit hong (more precisely its chorus) was accused to rip-off a korean song. They found that an even earlier Pfish song is also very similar to Trainor's melody. Then I found yet another similar tune, from even earlier.
It was a hungarian school-camp song that everybody knew over here in the mid-eighties, and possibly also 1-2 decades before. I reported on this finding in my Inspiration essay.
The similarity covers two full phrases, no less. The hungarian song (title: Napkrong Az Égről) is somewhat faster and sung in shuffle beat that is transcribed here in even beat view and compared with Trainor's chorus (second iteration).

  4   1   2   3   4   1   2   3   4   1   2   3   4   1   2   3   4  
5 6 7 1 1 7 7 6 6 5 3 4     3 2     5 7 7 6 6 5 5 4 2 3     6 5 : Napkorong
5 6 7 1 117 776 665 354    ~3 2...5 6 7 776 665 554 4 3     2~1 : All About...

Trainor's tune is longer with an extra bar in the middle.

Back then I could not locate a recording or a sheet music of this tune. The song is not registered in the hungarian copyright office either. Now I've found a YT video. Listen at 04:00!

If it is a mere coincidence indeed, then it's record long one for this class.

Tuesday, 3 April 2018

Love Is A Wonderful Thing

Isley Brothers vs. Michael Bolton

This case was originally based on five unprotectable elements. The most important of these was obviously the title phrase that is melodically similar, even if just moderately so. The matching of the words was surely a strong factor. And they added four other subtle similarities.
My analysis shows third party examples demonstrating how usual is the extent of the melodic similarity between Isley Brothers' and Michael Bolton's song. On the other hand I also show one subtle detail (a rhythmical variant) that was probably inspired by the Isley Brothers version directly. This subtle detail on the other hand it is just weakly amplifying the extrinsic similarity.
This case was a key reference during the Blurred Lines case too. 17 years after the Supreme Court ruling (24 after Federal Court ruling) I've found a prior art song that must have "inspired" the Isley Borthers. The similarity is striking both extrinsically and intrinsically. The key detail of the original case (the title phrase) is shown not to be original to Isley Brothers.
This blog entry is the first report of this finding.

My judgememt: no infringement. Even without considering the prior art example - but a close one. The direct inspiration is probable.
Third party prior song judgement: this is infringement, may be unconscious tough.

Stairway To Heaven

This is an interesting one. When you listen to Taurus then the first 3-4 guitar notes make you recognise the Stairway intro. Then the descending line keeps your feeling alive for 3-4 bars. The analysis makes it clear that the similarity between the two songs are based on commonplace details. More third party examples show you for how high extent these similarities are based on commonplaces. On the other hand an extrinsic test may surely jurors convince, they are similar. Even strikingly so for those 2-3 seconds. More details in my analysis.
My judgement: no infringement, not even inspiration.

Blurred Lines - Got To Give It Up

I still remember my impression when I first read about this case and listened to both song one after another. Even tough I thought I belived to have a strong skill to find similarities between songs this pair made me sweat. I listened to both songs again  and again, and asked myself where are the similar melodies? Then I obtained and read the related expert analyses. I've found so many points in these to criticize that I finally could not resist writing my own analysis. 
The analysis is completed with an appendix: a third party song example with a constellation of similarities with Blurred Lines - showing that a constellation without melodic similarity does not prove anything.
My judgement: no infringement, inspiration yes.

Inspiration or plagiarism?

In 2015 the Blurred Lines case inspired me to deal with musical plagiarism. Back then I browsed through some classic and new cases and developed my own methodology. In an essay I summerized my thoughts on plagiarism and inspiration.

Songs that were analysed in this paper, plus brief judgement by me:
Stairway To Heaven - no infringement,
Come As You Are - infringement,
Another One Bites The Dust - no infringement,
Blurred Lines - no infringement,
Sweet Child Of Mine - no infringement,
My Sweet Lord - infringement,
All About That Bass - no infringement,
Get Lucky - no infringement,
Viva La Vida - no infringement,

Sunday, 1 April 2018


This site was created for investigating music plagiarism in analytic form. This kind of analyses are prepared normally by forensic musicology experts (which I'm not) of the opponent parties in plagiarism cases. These analyses may differ much in findings and consequences depending on which side the expert support. Hereby I revise some plagiarism cases to obtain an independent "third party" judgement for those interested.