Home Music The blurred lines of electronic dance music copyright

The blurred lines of electronic dance music copyright

by Jonathan Cohen January 28, 2014
The blurred lines of electronic dance music copyright

Graphic Jenny Kwan

Musicians often call each other out if they feel their music or their words have been ripped off or incorrectly accredited by their peers; some have even taken each other to court over it to be properly recognized.

For example, Marvin Gaye’s children are suing Robin Thicke and those involved with his summer hit “Blurred Lines.” According to CBC News, Thicke and company are being accused of copyright infringement.

Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines copyright as “the exclusive legal right to reproduce, publish, sell, or distribute the matter and form of something (as a literary, musical, or artistic work).”

Normally, in this situation, you would be shunned by your peers and ostracized, but in the world of electronic dance music (EDM), this is not necessarily the case.

In EDM culture, underground producers will often take parts of famous songs and use them to create their own unofficial bootleg remix. These artists aim to generate a following through their remixes, even though it was never technically allowed in the first place. Despite the lack of accreditation, the EDM community does not frown upon those producers at all. Rather, artists are praised when they outdo themselves and spawn a fanbase from said remixes.

Examples have been seen in the early projects by Zedd, as well as Porter Robinson. Other artists such as W&W, Jump Smokers, David A, and many more have contributed to the world of bootlegs resulting in hundreds of thousands of views, according to SoundCloud.
Another form of musical ‘copy-cating’  that exists in this scene is much more controversial to say the least. Sometimes, famous artists use the work of underground producers as their own without crediting them in the song, but credit them as an artist in their circle of “friends.” Briefly put, someone steals your song, calls it their own, and tells the world that you are – indirectly – talented.

The best example of this music fraud is showcased all over the Internet, especially on the music blog Do Androids Dance. Apparently, DJ Snake, a recognized producer who is signed to Diplo’s record label, Mad Decent, uploaded a remix of the song “Breathe” by The Prodigy and Mercer and labeled it his “DJ Snake Parisian Remix.” Upon further inspection, an underground artist named Breaux also released the same remix. Many believed DJ Snake stole Breaux’s work but, in the end, the former got off scot-free and the latter gained supporters and fans alike from this mess and was satisfied with the outcome.

“Original work is hard to come by these days and people just get accustomed to hearing regurgitated music,” said Andru, a trap music producer from Montreal. “It’s all the same stuff and people love it.”

Surprisingly enough, situations like these happen on a daily basis in the world of EDM, for better or for worse. Artists often become famous for using the work of others and can build careers as DJs from it.

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