Copyright Law Case Study Essay

2629 Words Apr 10th, 2013 11 Pages
Music Business

Music Technology & Production Year 3
Case Study
Ronan Mitchell

Copyright Law is an important entity within the music industry. It protects the owner of authorship from infringement. Infringement arises when the copyright owner’s work is used without their consent. Although sounds cannot be copyrighted, some cases have shown that the argument of copyrighting one’s voice can sometimes hold weight in a court of law. Singer Tom Waits sued snack manufacturer Frito Lay for hiring a singer to impersonate him in an advert. Mr. Waits felt that his artistic copyright had been infringed upon. Frito Lay’s defense argued that a voice cannot be protected by copyright law as it is a sound and
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This is to cover all vessels for creative expression. On a simple scale, copyright subsists in four sections; Music, Film and Broadcast, Literary Publication and Original Databases.
The music subset consists of Musical, Literary, Dramatic or Artistic Works. The musical copyright covers works of music that do not contain words. How notes are arranged to form melodies, song structures and chord progressions are protected by this copyright. Certain musical elements are not protected by this. If a guitarist has particularly unique guitar tone, he cannot have this protect by a copyright. A specific tone is not a tangible musical work and therefore cannot be protected. However, if the same guitarist recorded an original piece of music with that guitar tone, this recording is now a tangible body of work and can be protected by musical copyright. It is the music itself that is protected. Not the sound. (Neff, 2012)
This is a particularly interesting element of Tom Waits lawsuit against Frito-Lay. The defendants argued that the “voice misappropriation” case was invalid as one cannot own the rights to certain style of singing. (UMKC School of Law, n.d.)
Tom Waits is an American singer, songwriter, composer and actor. Almost as much for his music, he is renowned for his unique gravelly, guttural singing voice. His voice has been described as sounding like

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