Is it plagiarism?

GiveMeYourSmallestSticks!

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When it comes to the blues I think everyone ripped off Robert Johnson, and Chuck Berry stole all his licks from Sister Rosetta Tharpe.
There's plenty of highly influential blues which predated Robert Johnson by a good bit. Cream alone played Crossroad blues (R. Johnson), but also Rollin' and Tumblin' (Hambone Willie Newburn) and I'm So Glad (Skip James). The latter two both predate Johnson by almost 10 years. Just the first example off the top of my head, there are many more.
 

pedro navahas

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^^
yeah, I’m sure there are but Robert Johnson is more well known!
 

Squirrel Man

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So if I play the Purdie Shuffle in an otherwise "original" tune, is that plagiarism?

Or any standard 4/4 disco or rock beat that's been done in hundreds/thousands of songs?

How is "plagiarism" limited to melodies and not beats?
 

Tufty

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Small Faces You Need Lovin
Zeppelin obviously dug this tune. But Whole Lotta Love is a great tune in its own right
 

Mcjnic

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Small Faces You Need Lovin
Zeppelin obviously dug this tune. But Whole Lotta Love is a great tune in its own right
Oddly enough, Willie Dixon didn’t sue the Small Faces. He did sue Zeppelin, though … and won. Always seemed strange that the Faces came out of that one unscathed. They absolutely ripped it. No question. But it was the more successful and deeper pockets of Zeppelin that bore the brunt. Zeppelin now credits Dixon on the song.
 

drums1225

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So if I play the Purdie Shuffle in an otherwise "original" tune, is that plagiarism?

Or any standard 4/4 disco or rock beat that's been done in hundreds/thousands of songs?

How is "plagiarism" limited to melodies and not beats?
Plagiarism isn't necessarily copyright infringement, unless it's melodies and lyrics. If you could copyright a rhythm or beat (or a chord progression, for that matter), there would be like 4 songs in the history of rock and blues.
 

Tufty

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Oddly enough, Willie Dixon didn’t sue the Small Faces. He did sue Zeppelin, though … and won. Always seemed strange that the Faces came out of that one unscathed. They absolutely ripped it. No question. But it was the more successful and deeper pockets of Zeppelin that bore the brunt. Zeppelin now credits Dixon on the song.
Yeah for some reason nobody ever had much bad to say about the Small Faces. Maybe they never made any money on their versions. I guess Dixon’s lawyers were following the money
 

VintageUSA

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Look through any church hymnal and count the rip-offs off Beethoven, Bach and Handel.........
 

Squirrel Man

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Plagiarism isn't necessarily copyright infringement, unless it's melodies and lyrics. If you could copyright a rhythm or beat (or a chord progression, for that matter), there would be like 4 songs in the history of rock and blues.
So then drummers are basically nothing more than crafty timekeepers?

Not doing anything that rises to the level of plagiarism worthy?

It's not too late for me to switch to bass guitar maybe.

:p
 

Tornado

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Not doing anything that rises to the level of plagiarism worthy?

For the most part, no. Otherwise drummers would have songwriting credits for their drum parts. They don't unless the other songwriters are feeling especially generous and add them. Drumming is more "open source". We are free to use, adapt, improve, and release back to the public.
 

Squirrel Man

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For the most part, no. Otherwise drummers would have songwriting credits for their drum parts. They don't unless the other songwriters are feeling especially generous and add them. Drumming is more "open source". We are free to use, adapt, improve, and release back to the public.
Clearly I'm playing devils advocate here but I hope you see my point.

A series of guitar chords = intellectual property.

A series of drum beats <> intellectual property.

So could I copy the iconic drum riff to Come Together in a completely different song and not violate any kind of intellectual property rights (not necessarily from a legal stance, btw)?
 

Tornado

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Clearly I'm playing devils advocate here but I hope you see my point.

A series of guitar chords = intellectual property.

A series of drum beats <> intellectual property.

So could I copy the iconic drum riff to Come Together in a completely different song and not violate any kind of intellectual property rights (not necessarily from a legal stance, btw)?
Well...a series of guitar chords might not be intellectual property. Depending on how "riff-ified" they are, of course. Songwriting IP is generally considered melody and lyrics, and not a chord progression. Recent court outcomes are challenging that though.

Yes, you could copy the drum part in Come Together and not violate IP rights. Well, once upon a time that was true...again, recent court cases are challenging that. Seems now even a "vibe" can be owned if you can convince a jury or a judge you do. IP only exists as a legal construct, I'm not sure we can have a moral application of IP beyond expecting people not to pass an idea they took as their own.
 

michaelocalypse

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I don't really subscribe to the idea of IP anyway, so I'd say no in general.

When it comes to art, you'll get into weird mental gymnastics trying to find the line where it's okay or not okay to be similar to something else. That would be like hockey players having to pay some dude every time they take a slap shot because he was the first one to think of do it. Ridiculous. Maybe every death metal band should pay Death part of their earnings since they did it first, and then Death would have to pay Black Sabbath or someone because they're playing metal.
Even with direct cover songs, there are versions I like and versions I don't. Sometimes it's the original, sometimes it's not. I wouldn't pay for some versions, and I would others.
 


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