A copyright is a legal right that provides protection to artists who create original works of authorship. An authorship is defined as anything that that is considered literary, artistic, musical or dramatic. Copyright protection applies to both an artist's published and unpublished work.
Infringement of a copyright occurs when another person copies the idea or expression of the original artist's work. As an example, last year, entertainer Robin Thicke and the family of legendary sing Marvin Gaye, entered into a lawsuit over whether Thicke had copied parts of Marvin Gaye's song "Sexy Ways" for parts of Thicke's hit song "Blurred Lines."
As a musical performer, copyright laws allow Robin Thicke to use the information or idea represented by Marvin Gaye's work, but the expression of the work itself is considered copyright protected. It is not simply a matter of looking for similar lyrics or a beat as a sign of copyright infringement. Instead, courts must look at all aspects of both songs in their entirety and compare everything from the backup vocals to harmonics and even the musical scores of the songs themselves.
Although a request for summary judgment filed by Thicke's attorneys was dismissed back in October, the litigation between the two parties in case appears to be set to continue.
Defendants who are accused of or knowingly commit copyright infringement may face serious fines and could find themselves responsible for statutory damages if they are found guilty. Defendants facing these types of lawsuits may find it beneficial to seek the counsel of an experienced Wisconsin attorney to assist with their case.
Source: Forbes, "What Really Happened In Court Over 'Blurred Lines': Robin Thicke & Pharrell vs. Marvin Gaye?" Jess Collen, Oct. 31, 2014