Plagiarism Anxiety

Discussion in 'Working in the Industry' started by krisbja, Jul 11, 2018.

  1. krisbja

    krisbja Active Member

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    Hi

    I have scored several feature films and several tv shows but I always get this anxiety after I deliver a score that I'm unconsciously and unknowingly stealing an existing melody or score. When I'm at the premiere I'm always expecting someone to shout "wait a minute - I have heard that before. It's just like the score in the movie..." or someone will post on twitter, Facebook etc. Maybe you could call this Plagiarism anxiety. Maybe it's just low self confidence or maybe it's an anxiety problem.

    Anyways - maybe I'm the only one. I just wanted to share this feeling with you and see if anybody is dealing with the same thing and how you deal with it.

    All the best!
     
  2. Alex Niedt

    Alex Niedt Senior Member

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    Everyone's always subconsciously stealing from things that already exist, and so much film scoring sounds exactly alike at this point that I wouldn't worry about someone thinking you're stealing from them unless you quite literally are. And if you think you recognize what you're writing, change it until you don't recognize it. Problem solved.
     
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  3. I agree with Alex, the reality is that you already plagiarised to some extent....we all do on a regular basis. However, if you consciously copied music note-for-note, then you could be concerned.
     
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  4. AllanH

    AllanH Senior Member

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    I wish there was some way to help detect "known material" in my music. There is always the risk of subconsciously using an idea or theme heard elsewhere. While an attorney might attribute intent and malice, I think its far more likely to be coincidence and nearly impossible to avoid. A couple of times I've tried using e.g. Shazam, Musixmatch, and Google's music search, but no real success.
     
  5. AllanH

    AllanH Senior Member

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    I would be interested if anyone knows of free or paid services to check a track for possible plagiarism.
     
  6. reddognoyz

    reddognoyz Senior Member

    I have done it big time at least twice! In each case it wasn't until years later that I realized I had co-opted something subconsciously. One was something I wrote for a tv special almost two decades ago. I realized recently that I had inadvertently swiped part of the bridge from the HR PuffenStuff theme : )
     
  7. fretti

    fretti Senior Member

    There is already for text (especially used for university theses and stuff like that) and I think also slowly (at least for the public; Facebook and Google probably already have great tools for that) evolving for photos. Though I think to do that for music will need a few more years (at least) to get it to a point where it has a good/acceptable detection/success rate without many mistakes.
    And then there is of course always the factor money. So unless it can be automated in a way that it's fast and doesn't need much resources it'll be imo mostly available to big studios/production. But who knows, maybe with the progression in AI technology it isn't to far away for the mass market of music makers?!

    But with services like Shazam and YouTube being able to detect copyrighted stuff (automated I guess) it's at least technologically possible I'd say:)
     
  8. reddognoyz

    reddognoyz Senior Member

    The biggest concern in this regard legally is intent imho. If, for instance, you copy something that's been suggested in an email, or more damning in the temp score, you are opening yourself up to issues.

    I have intentionally copied well known music for comedic effect and have had it backfire a couple of times, to no real ill effect, but that was back in the fast and loose days of MTV promo's and I had no contract declaring my authorship of the music in question. I wouldn't do it now.
     
  9. Parsifal666

    Parsifal666 I don't even own a DAW, I'm just a troll.

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    I can't count how many times I've heard a motif or actual phrase repeated from others' works. With sampling being what it is today, it's way too much on a young composer's shoulders to worry about crap like accidentally scooping a melody. Worry when you hear a phrase that sounds exactly like what you've done (and btw, smaller motives are being rerun all the time, whether intentionally or not, by pros and amateurs alike...nothing to worry about there). Keep in mind the most suspicious-sounding steals are those which use similar orchestration, modes...in other words, the backing to whatever phrase you accidentally copied has a lot to do with determining what's plagiarism. That's why sample companies usually state that the licenser has to have at least one accompanying track over their phrase samples. Context is everything here.

    Young composers need to write, write, write and keep writing. Study is super important, ear training is VITAL, but writing moreso imo. Don't let this worrying crap keep you from continually writing, editing, arranging, learning more about orchestration, synths, harmony, etc.

    Remember Nike? Just Do It.
     
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  10. robgb

    robgb I Have Strong Opinions

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    I say that a lot when I'm watching movies. When Star Wars came out, I thought, hey, that sounds just like Korngold's Kings Row... Didn't seem to bother anyone else.
     
  11. Parsifal666

    Parsifal666 I don't even own a DAW, I'm just a troll.

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    Oh yeah. There's a bit of Thief of Bagdad (Rozsa) and Black Swan (Newman) in that score as well.

    I never cared much for the SW scores, and that's apart from how worn out they are by now. It could be in part because Goldsmith was totally at the top of his game (and a greater risk-taker than Williams ever was...and this is coming from a hearty fan of some of William's work). I thought Goldsmith was the MAN with Capricorn One, the Omen(s), Boys from Brazil, Alien, Star Trek, and so many other both before and after SW. His Planet of the Apes remains the high bar for those films...by a big, trailblazing, margin.
     
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2018
  12. robgb

    robgb I Have Strong Opinions

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    I couldn't agree more. I think Williams is great, but Goldsmith was the King.
     
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  13. Parsifal666

    Parsifal666 I don't even own a DAW, I'm just a troll.

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    The Fury is a great unsung part of Williams' repertoire, and at times the sounds like both Goldsmith and Herrmann lol! Awesome score, well worth checking out again.
     
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  14. robgb

    robgb I Have Strong Opinions

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    Loved that movie when it came out. Doesn't hold up quite as well as the music does.
     
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  15. studiostuff

    studiostuff Senior Member

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    If you have enough concern and enough money, you could hire a forensic musicologist to review your work and give you a report.

    In the US, at least, copyright infringement proceedings take place in Federal Court. So, a composer has a couple of things working for them:

    Federal Court is an expensive place to proceed with legal action. So, someone who is just running a fever and thinks you have stolen something from a dream they had, probably won't have the financial means to proceed.

    Also, unless you have intentionally ripped off a piece of music (substantial similarity) that has earned a lot of money and is therefore "well known" (access to copyrighted material), it doesn't make a lot of sense to proceed against you if your infringing work is not making money and becoming well known (damaging to the value of the copyright).

    They may crush you, but for many of us, there will be a real limit to how much they will be able to benefit, even if they prevail. Obviously, this outcome is concerning, but a possible motive for the original copyright owner to think twice about proceeding. A cease and desist letter from their attorney might be a more practical solution to their concerns.

    I think we all worry about this a little. McCarntey asked everyone he knew if they recognized "Yesterday" before he turned it loose.

    PS: I'm not an attorney... just a guy who has had this concern for 30 years or so, and thought about it a little. YMMV
     
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  16. Parsifal666

    Parsifal666 I don't even own a DAW, I'm just a troll.

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    DePalma's that way for me sometimes, too. I love the Herrmann/DePalma stuff, not quite Vertigo or Psycho (though the scores are of course outstanding) but DePalma's films just plain seemed better with Bernard imo. Carrie was the notable exception, a real winner that one. Too bad Bernard had to die before scoring it.

    Nahh, too bad Bernard had to die, period. One of the greatest losses to 20th century music imo. Same with Rozsa, Korngold, Friedhofer, and so many other old greats of film music.
     
  17. Musicologo

    Musicologo Senior Member

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    There are so many millions of works out there and so few "usable tonal melodies" that more than plagiarism, I'd say what is highly probable is the coincidence of materials. Any tonal melody you will come up right now that is small or medium size (like 5-10 notes) has probably been already used several dozen times in the past.

    So either you start coming up with really unlikely combinations of intervals, going out of 12 TET, or making totally new arrangements out of the scope of the orchestra or else, any trained professional with time and AI tools can probably find some other works to relate your work with (some motifs, some passages, etc...) and build up a fancy essay loaded with technical terms explaining how your score is a derivative score of obscure score n437 by obscure composer X in middle of nowhere suing you.

    What is the solution then? Actually: copying more. Making sure your work is indeed derivative, but of a public domain score that you know and can refer to. In that case, if anyone, anytime, anywhere accuses you of plagiarism and tries to sue you, you can defend yourself stating: the section A of my work was based on beethoven 13, bars 18-25; the section B on pallestrina 46, bars 18-29 and the motiv C is an anon french folk song from XVIII century. I assume all this and this is perfectly legal.

    Specially in Pop songs, in which melodic motivs are so short and simple, it's very wise to have old folk songs, nursery rhymes, pre tin pan alley theather songs you can refer to. By acknowledging and crediting public domain materials you've based your new composition on, you're actually pro-activelly preventing plagiarism accusations while still retaining 100% of ownership.


    http://www.peachnote.com/#!nt=singleNoteAffine&npq=62+0+1+2+0+-2+-1+-2+-2

    use tools like this one and test for yourself! have fun!
     
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2018
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  18. Polkasound

    Polkasound Senior Member

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    When I am writing music, I'll come up with a complete or mostly-complete melody line in my head, but then I will take bits and pieces the melody line and change them to something completely different. Those differernt parts are also usually inspired by songs that are completely outside the genre for which I'm writing.

    I may not need to take that extra step, but I do it anyway to help ensure I'm not inadvertently rewriting an existing song that's been sitting in the far reaches my subconsciousness. I figure the worst thing that could happen is that I'd be rewriting parts of two or three existing songs and putting them together to form a new song.

    But no matter what you do to make your songs as safely original as possible, parts of every song you write will still be found in other songs somewhere in the world. It's inescapable. But don't sweat it, because chances are that no one who hears your song is going to know or care that the first three bars of your new song are eerily similar to the turnaround found in an obscure derivation of "Ждёт тебя дорога" released in 1967 by the Eastern Belkravian zither player, Katarzyna Olavtoski.
     
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