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Is this a case of copyright infingement of Jeremy Soule's work?

Discussion in 'Working in the Industry' started by Thomas A Booker, Feb 26, 2018.

  1. Polkasound

    Polkasound Senior Member

    Apr 20, 2016
    Milwaukee, WI
    I respect your opinion, but I look at this subject a little differently. It's one thing to admire Monet, learn his technique, and become an Impressionist painter. But it's another thing to admire his Water Lilies painting, repaint it with a couple lilies moved around, and call it your own, because the latter literally requires no creativity. It just requires the ability to copy.

    Before I say anything else, I should note that my background is not in soundtracks, but in traditional music, and that's where my opinions are coming from. If there is generally more "creative borrowing leeway" granted to composers in the orchestral or soundtrack genres which makes, for example, Ms. Page's "Nightfall" completely acceptable by OST standards, then I humbly apologize to her and to everyone here for my ignorance.
    Thomas A Booker and fixxer49 like this.
  2. I see what you're saying, but IMO there's nothing original anymore in the music industry as a whole. It's all recycled. I mean really, can you point out a film composer with a completely original sound...different from anything you've ever heard before? In the case of Monet, even he was heavily influenced if you look at his role models (ie; Manet). Even Zeppelin's Stairway to Heaven is claimed to have been stolen from Taurus. Is it close? Darn right it is...but it's not exact, and you can tell where the idea came from.
  3. Polkasound

    Polkasound Senior Member

    Apr 20, 2016
    Milwaukee, WI
    I think that's true for the most part (and especially true for polka music) but how a composer uses and adapts what he is recycling requires various levels of creativity. Influence in creative arts is a wonderful and even a necessary thing. I don't mean to pick on Ms. Page, but just to use Nightfall as an example, I don't hear influence. I hear 97% copying and 3% creativity. That falls far short of what I'd personally deem an original composition. I think it's great that she is moved by the music of Jeremy Soule and any other number of composers out there, but at the end of the day, a Mimi Page composition still needs to sound like Mimi Page. I hold all composers to that basic standard, especially when one of their songs sounds close to another.
    Thomas A Booker likes this.
  4. STec

    STec Member

    Nov 29, 2017
    Kind of related, Jeremy Soule tweeting about a universal message:

  5. OP
    Thomas A Booker

    Thomas A Booker Senior Member

    Aug 28, 2016
    You're right that I'm ignorant about what constitutes stealing original ideas - that was exactly the purpose of me starting this discussion: I asked for other people's opinions on whether they'd consider it OK or not in order to give myself a broader perspective. I thought it was entirely possible that someone would make an excellent point I hadn't thought of. When that happens, I find it very valuable. I was also genuinely (academically) curious about how far legal tolerance stretches with similar-sounding pieces.

    I'm sorry if it came across as finger-pointing or "jumping on her for stealing". That wasn't my intention (and I never used the word "stealing"). I'm aware there are many other examples like this, but that doesn't mean this particular example couldn't have served as a good starting point for the kind of discussion I was seeking.

    I did acknowledge several times that she could have been given full permission for all of the above and said that we needed to be careful about jumping to any conclusions. Yes, I said that (hypothetically) had permission not been sought, I would personally think it was crossing a line, but that doesn't mean I was actually making any accusations. (I do still think it shouldn't be in a playlist called "original songs" given the identical-sounding Secunda cover, but that's a relatively minor issue of labelling on Soundcloud.)

    I hope that's clarified my position and intentions. And yes, as there are more hours of amazing music than would span a human lifetime, I will certainly be missing out on a huge amount of it - if you have any particular gems you'd like to suggest (OST or otherwise), I'm all ears :)
  6. SimonCharlesHanna

    SimonCharlesHanna Senior Member

    Feb 3, 2012
    Are you guys actually serious? She's stolen someone else's hard work and claimed it as her own. It's IP theft.

    Saying "it's all recycled, no one is original" is such a cop out. She wasn't inspired by Jeremy Soule to create her own story, she copied his notes and said that she wrote it.
    fixxer49 likes this.
  7. fixxer49

    fixxer49 Bouncing Consultant

    Jan 13, 2013
    New York, NY
    i hope someone hasn't already posted this. If not, enjoy this fantabulous defense of unadulterated plagiarism:
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2018
  8. Polkasound

    Polkasound Senior Member

    Apr 20, 2016
    Milwaukee, WI
    That's certainly what it looks like from our perspective, but Thomas Booker has a point about not making accusations. We can't know if she worked out some highly unorthodox licensing deal allowing her to release a derivation of Secunda as an original for a Netflix series. I've never heard of such a license, but if she didn't do that, it could be putting both her and Netflix in a very dangerous situation.

    It's also worth noting that if you are plagiarizing someone else's material, the LAST thing you'd ever want to do is publish it on the internet on the same page as the plagiarized material. That would be the equivalent of having a flashing billboard erected that says "PLEASE CATCH AND SUE ME AS SOON AS POSSIBLE."

    Although it's my opinion that Nightfall is clearly a derivation of Secunda, how she claims it as an original work, whether legally or illegally, is strictly her business. As a fellow musician and composer, all I can say is that I hope for the sake of everyone involved, she is somehow doing everything on the level. And if she is doing everything on the level, I'm sure we'd all appreciate her sharing her expertise with us.
  9. I agree it's an obvious image of the Soule composition, but as mentioned by others, we don't know the nitty gritty details. Maybe she herself is the original author?? Who knows, but it's not up to us to decide and point fingers.

    Regarding legal action for plagiarism, a colleague once discovered a piece he wrote surface on a Chinese TV show. After consulting a lawyer on what could be done, the process was very tedious and expensive. It is what it is :(
  10. dannthr

    dannthr Senior Member

  11. Replicant

    Replicant Senior Member

    Jul 16, 2016
    Alberta, Canada
    Lol that's nothing

    artmuz likes this.
  12. Dr Belasco

    Dr Belasco Senior Member

    Feb 15, 2018
    Regardless of any posts, to answer you direct questions.

    (a) Yes. Definitely in this case and potentially yes to the second part. The only way around any of that would be to have stated that the piece was directly from the 'original' that you put up and was not for making any monetary profit without permissions. I believe that the pieces are also in the same key by the sound of it.

    (b) If it's intentional and the original writer is alluded to, thanked him or her and all those kind of things, then I can't see a problem unless the perpetrator is attempting to make money without permission. If it's just a ripoff for money, then it makes no difference to what anyone else considers other than the originator.
  13. AdamAlake

    AdamAlake Music Person

  14. omiroad

    omiroad Senior Member

    Oct 17, 2016
    Oh no, the music police is coming to get us all!
    AdamAlake likes this.
  15. ghandizilla

    ghandizilla Please feed me

    Is there something so original that is has its own origin?

    "Yes, my work. My work is entirely original. It has its own origin."

    Which implies: "It came ex nihilo directly from the mind of God. So I can not allow anyone to borrow some patterns from it to get a bit of vocabulary, and then painly, slowly try to articulate their own phrases with these bits of vocabulary. They can't borrow to me, because such godly works are sacred."

    At the end of that logic is a kind of anti-baroque: "No one shall learn. I shall be the only one authorized to make music."

    Come on! Stop that beethovenian crap. We're not God. We're just guys. We constantly borrow. What should it be next? Should we copyright notes? Chords? Scales? Instruments? Cadenzas? Where is the frontier?

    If a given line has been varied ten times, does it mean no one of those times can be borrowed? Does it still count with different chords? One different note? Two different notes? Where would be a "fair" barrier in such nonsense case? At the end of a "hard" copyright logic lies a simple conclusion: no one has the legal permission to write music anymore (more precisely: no one has the legal permission to write effective music anymore).

    John Cage even invented "chance operations" as a desperate try to avoid replicating something he remembers or something he likes, because he kept doing it without even noticing. Even when he forced himself not to replicate something he likes or remembers, he failed! Hence the invention of "chance operations". So you've got the choice :
    - connect with your audience and nod to the fact that whatever you're writing, it's probably unconsciously borrowing stuff your audience will recognize and associate with different moods, emotions, situations, or actions ; it's a bit like borrowing words to phrase your own thing, but don't you think that to yell at "copyright infringement" when a person is merely learning to speak is a murder to future possibilities?
    - or do some random bullshit, so random you can not even say "it's my idea, it's my thing" (philosophical problem of attribution with random stuff: a random stuff is no one's work)

    I'm a really gifted composer regarding crappy random things nobody can connect to. So I may have a future in a hard copyright legal framework. So I would be really happy if you kept doing these kind of denunciations. At last! Some guys finally open the way for random bullshit composers like me! :-D
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2018
  16. Replicant

    Replicant Senior Member

    Jul 16, 2016
    Alberta, Canada
    Man, a lot of people seem to have hang ups about this.

    Everyone knows that very similar and occasionally the same lines are bound to show up in music, especially where "genre" is concerned.

    But here we have a woman whose track that is accused of copying because her track is remarkably similar to one she actually did a formal cover of!

    What is there to debate, exactly?

    This kind of thing isn't like using chromatic mediants for that "space theme" vibe, emulating the style of the wind triplets in Flight To Never Land, or using orchestration techniques common to John Williams so that people go "Hey, this reminds me of John Williams!" stylistically.

    This is literally: Person heard song, covered song, and then used what she reverse engineered from that cover to create a variation of that piece that's just different enough that maybe no one will notice.

    I don't think we need to call the feds on her or something, but let's just NOT try to find excuses.

    By the way, probably the best one:

    I suppose that's a coincidence too?
    Polkasound likes this.
  17. Polkasound

    Polkasound Senior Member

    Apr 20, 2016
    Milwaukee, WI
    I think people's perceptions of how closely one song can sound to another, and still be considered an original, will vary quite a bit. But for me personally, and maybe for some others, here's where that barrier lies:

    I fully understand songs, within and across all genres of music, sharing closely-matching patterns in spots, OR closely-matching chord progressions in spots, OR closely-matching instrumentation, OR closely-matching song structure, OR closely matching lyrics in spots, and there may even be a few spots where a couple of those things combine. Sometimes the matches are intentional, sometimes they're not. But, when several of those things match simultaneously throughout a song, the barrier has been crossed, and the song must be labeled and licensed as a cover or derivative work. Anyone who labels such a song as an original composition compromises their integrity as an artist, because they're basically saying they're OK with IP theft.
    ghandizilla likes this.
  18. ghandizilla

    ghandizilla Please feed me

    The question I raised was: "where can we place a barrier" to avoid abuse on those serious issues. I find here some first elements of answer, which is good :) Ok, so here's the difficulty: can we really separate instruments-choice from pattern or chords related recognition?

    I agree with the "so much coincidence it has to be intentional" thing, but would not consider instruments choice as a separate thing to consider, because it's so much intricated with how we associate music elements with styles, moods or places.

    Also, at which point can we say "though x notes differ from the original pattern, it's still taken from that". I would put a kind of recognition criterium on that, like: "if we can immediately recognize the work it is derivated from", rather than a static quantitative barrier.

    So an acceptable barrier would be like: "if patterns, structure, and chords from the original work are immediately recognizable, even if they have been varied a bit, then it's undeniable it has been copied from this source rather than inspired by it". Something like that.

    P. S. : A big fan of the late 90s Stratovarius, pretty happy to listen to this again. Infinity was a tremendous album.
  19. Polkasound

    Polkasound Senior Member

    Apr 20, 2016
    Milwaukee, WI
    I don't think placing a universal barrier is possible. Every instance of alleged copyright infringement still needs to be handled individually. In the court of public opinion, there will almost never be a unanimous verdict.
  20. ghandizilla

    ghandizilla Please feed me

    I had an article in mind, which led me to raise the question in the first place. This Ryan Leach's one on how to knock-off Game of Thrones theme.

    I wondered myself: "with all that temp-tracks sh*t going on and the rising demand for "how to knock-off a track", you have to be really clear about where the limit is".

    But as Nietzsche said, our grandchildren will remember the pioneers, not the epigones.

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