So I guess the verdict is in. Most of the focus in the “Blurred Lines” case has been on the money. Little has been said of ‘Blurred Lines’ Verdict: Music Lawyers Weigh In
I remember trying to rip my vinyl collection to be able to play them digitally. I was held at customs for all these CDs I was carrying around. Although it was my own vinyl collection with no illegal downloads, they sent me off with an official warning. There are stories of DJs being arrested in Italy for playing music from CDs because the music had been copied illegally. Even if it was ripped from vinyl, this can be seen as an altered and illegal version of the original. In these cases, the governments and major labels were very slow to enter the digital era. I’m wondering if it’s the same in this case.
In dance music, we have a whole realm of bootlegs and edits that are very fun and inspiring. But it feels like the Wild West of sampling too. I often get bootlegs from 15 year old kids who just swap out their name for the original artist: Johnwell Smith – Zombie Nation (demo). And speaking of which, my fellow artists W&W did just upload a free and awesome rework on Zombie Nation. This got pulled offline very fast, and now it seems they are waiting to be sued.
Why the ‘Blurred Lines’ Verdict Is an Uphill Battle for Copycats
I’m not trying to be hypocritical – I run a label, I run a publishing company and, for now, we make money selling records. I’m saying “for now,” because we’re already making more money from streaming than from selling records. It’s making a real impact on our business and allows us to launch different artists and different music. We’re experimenting with giving music away for free to allow the community to share and consume freely, then come back with a different user experience like streaming where we can get a return on our investment. The future in the music industry will change and I’d like to be part of the future, rather than stand in its way and delay the inevitable.
The fact is, this very second some kid somewhere is taking my music, chopping it up, looking at it sideways, replaying it and then calling it his own. They are the future. If that stops, the music stops. However, a new standard has been set. Those “Blurred Lines” suddenly became dangerously Thicke.
Laidback Luke is a Filipino-Dutch DJ/producer with more than two decades of experience in the dance music industry. Luke owns Mixmash Records and supports rising talent through sub-label Ones to Watch and his production forum, whose users have included the likes of Avicii and Afrojack.