Music is an art form that evolves from music of previous decades. It is a product of artists that paved the way for new music stylings and beats.
For instance, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sam Cooke were groundbreaking and transformed the music scene. The question here is whether it is possible to truly be inspired by music that came before the current time and not infringe upon the integrity of that music? How far are we willing to dissect music to make sure that nothing in a prior decade had any influence over current music?
It is not as cut and dry as plagiarism or stealing words or names, it is an evolving art that builds off of the music of those that came before. If we look too close, are we limiting the ability of music of the past to creep into the future? Are we hindering future generations to be able to truly have a vast array of music stylings? These are all things to ponder.
Madonna is being sued over a sample used in her 1990 hit ‘Vogue’. It has been over 20 years since she released her song “Vogue,” yet the record label VMG now alleges that Madonna stole samples from one of their songs for use in her hit single. VMG has filed a lawsuit for copyright infringement against both Madonna and her label, WB Records. They claim that Madonna took samples from the track ‘Ooh I Love It (Love Break)’ by Salsoul Orchestra, released in 1977.
In addition, VMG claims that horns and strings were taken from the track and used in ‘Vogue’ without permission. It appears that the portions of “Love Break,” which have been copied into “Vogue” are many, yet intentionally hidden. The horn and strings in ‘Vogue’ are intentionally sampled from ‘Love Break’ throughout.”
So is it still possible to bring a lawsuit after all this time? It appears so. Why did they wait so long to sue Madonna? According to VMG, the technology to detect the reused sample has only recently been made available. The music/beats had been intentionally altered and hidden by producer Richard ‘Shep’ Pettibone, who was hired to mix ‘Love Break’ and who also worked on ‘Vogue’.
The filed lawsuit states: “The unauthorized sampling was deliberately hidden by [Madonna] within ‘Vogue’ so as to avoid detection. It was only when VMG specifically looked for the sample, with the technology available to it in 2011, that the sampling could be confirmed.” The theft was impossible to detect without the use of new production technology which allows listeners to isolate and observe individual sounds within a song.
VMG is seeking compensation in addition to “Madonna’s profits that are attributable to the copyrighted material.” The single sold over 3 million copies and the royalties on such a popular track are likely to be huge.
Ironically, in January, Madonna mentioned the similarities between her single ‘Express Yourself’ and Lady Gaga’s track ‘Born This Way’. While no accusations of out-and-out thievery were made, Madonna described Gaga’s track as “reductive,” and incorporated the chorus to ‘Born This Way’ into a live rendition of ‘Express Yourself’ on her tour.
Personally, I think that music should not be critiqued and dissected so harshly. If you look close enough I think you can find that someone at sometime may have used the same beat or melody or instrumental line. Let me reiterate that we are talking about the music and not the lyrics here. In my opinion, this lawsuit is frivolous and is just one way of trying to gain monetary compensation from one of the biggest artists and hit singles. I say let the music flow and let the beats carry on.