Forensic musicologists, analyzing songs for copyright infringement

Posted on: October 13, 2016

Peter Oxendale “is perhaps the world’s leading forensic musicologist, the person musicians call when they believe someone has ripped off their work,” writes Alex Marshall in Tuesday’s (10/11) New York Times. “He analyzes songs, everything from pop hits to classical pieces, until he is sure there has been an infringement, or not…. Mr. Oxendale takes on around 450 cases a year…. Last year, a jury awarded [Marvin] Gaye’s family $7.3 million after deciding that Robin Thicke’s hit ‘Blurred Lines’ copied one of his songs. (Mr. Oxendale was involved in the case.) … There are some younger forensic musicologists. Mr. Oxendale is training his son to be one. In Boston, there is Joe Bennett, 47, the dean of the Boston Conservatory, part of the Berklee College of Music, who spends spare evenings doing copyright work. He’s mainly hired by advertising agencies to ensure their songs do not accidentally copy anything…. ‘A lot of famous songs have been created using reference tracks and there’s nothing wrong with that,’ [Oxendale] says. ‘There would be no Beethoven without Haydn. Who would want to have lost his music?’ ”

Posted October 13, 2016