“Breakbeat” on trial

Dr. Luke


The Hollywood Reporter shines a light once again on an issue regarding copyright infringement in the music industry.

Months ago it was the family of Marvin Gaye who sued Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke.  In that case the Gayes insisted the block buster hit “Blurred Lines” infringed on their father’s classic hit “Got To Give It Up”.  As a surprise to some, a jury agreed  and awarded damages to the Gayes.  The two men tried to retry the case to no avail.

The lawyer for the men believe they will not stop fighting:

…. not only for [Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams]  but for creative people everywhere, they’re going to pursue this to a fair and just conclusion that will be different than this jury’s verdict.”

“I feel like I’ve let songwriters around the world down by helping establish this horrible precedent that somebody can make a claim based upon a song that sounds the same, yet is materially different – and if they can find eight people who don’t read music, they might win,” he says. When asked to explain why he feels that way, he says, “Record labels are going to be far more reticent to put out new, good music that is similar to the style of other music for fear that they are gonna get a claim, including spurious claims. I mean, why wouldn’t anybody bring a claim now?”

But according to the Reporter, this new case makes Blurred Lines look like footnote.  It involves a percussive element in most, if not all, hip hop, electronic, funk and jazz songs called a “breakbeat”:

For years, musicians have been taking old drumming solos to create new works with near impunity, but those days might be on the verge of being over thanks to a case being pursued against famous pop producer Lukasz “Dr. Luke” Gottwald over the Jessie J mega-hit “Price Tag.”

The plaintiff in this New York federal court case is New Old Music Group, whose president Lenny Lee Goldsmith wrote the 1975 composition “Zimba Ku,” recorded by the band Black Heat. A drum part in this song has become one of the more famous breakbeats in music history. N.W.A, Pete Rock, Kool G. Rap and Heavy D & the Boyz are just some of the artists who have reported to have used it. (See here for the music in question.)

The two songs are here:
First Price Tag:


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and next Kimba Ku:
Sound familiar??  If this goes through, what could it mean for the industry?
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