The ongoing evolution of music has led to countless copyright cases in memorable history. “Borrowing” from other musicians seems a bit inevitable to me.
I was listening to some MC Yogi recently and noticed that a Hindu temple prayer featured in the album Elephant Power bears a striking resemblance to a controversial Dixie Chicks song. The song was written for them by Dennis Linde – I wonder how much time he spent in India? It seems unlikely that plagiarism happened in the other direction.
The MC Yogi piece can be sample here:
The Dixie Chicks song, Goodbye Earl, was controversial for its lyrics, not its apparently borrowed tune. I think it should have been controversial for having a terrible music video.
If you are getting excited and want to jump on that band wagon, here are a few better documented examples of imitation in pop music.
I think our current copyright laws are horrific. In Canada the term of a copyright is life of the author plus 50 years and in the US and UK it is life plus 75 up to a maximum of 95 years. Most of these laws are relatively new (1990’s) and retroactive to 1923. This means that in the US and UK nothing new will enter the public domain until at least 2018. This keeps all sorts of old works subject to copyright and ineligible for inclusion in such things as remix without fear of legal retribution. The Canadian government is now facing pressure to jump on that crazy train as they move to join the Trans Pacific Partnership (yet another bad idea).
The purpose of copyright is to promote creativity, not hamper it. Like many of our institutions, this one has been twisted to benefit few at the expense of many.