Ingrid Monson

Biography

2016-2017: Hutchins Fellow

The Blurred Lines Infringement Case: Copyright and African American Music

Project Description

The Blurred Lines Infringement Case: Copyright and African American Music

While at the Du Bois Research Institute I will write a book contextualizing the decision in in the Blurred Lines copyright decision of 2015 within a broader set of issues pertaining to copyright and African American music. Since I served as an expert witness for the Marvin Gaye Family in the case and testified at trial, I have a unique perspective. The broader issues implicated in Williams v. Bridgewater Music Inc. (the formal title of the case) are: 1) the relationships among notation, recording, and the identity of a work; 2) the status of accompaniments (grooves and feels) in popular music and copyright law; 3) a history of racial practices in the music industry, which often denied African American songwriters publishing royalties; 4) the generational divide created by the Copyright Act of 1976 (effective Jan 1, 1978), after which recordings became acceptable as copyright deposits, and 5) the place of copying, sampling, and borrowing in the aesthetics of contemporary popular musics. All of these issues are crucial to understanding the economics of African American music in the 21st century.

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