Driven by technical advances in electronic music production, an increasing amount of popular music lacks several traditional markers that courts use to determine whether one song is “substantially similar” to another: melody, harmony, rhythm, and lyrics.
Instead, the creativity inherent in electronic music centers on the “texture” of the sound being produced. But can a sound texture be protected by copyright? This article provides a road map for lawyers and judges alike to navigate substantial similarity in non-traditional forms of music, with a particular focus on electronic music.
The Traditional Framework
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