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Copyright infringement in music

There has been a rising trend in the music industry of rightsholders bringing claims of copyright infringement where they believe that there are similarities between their song and the defendants. This has had a direct impact on the creative process for composers, who are now often recording their entire song-writing process and seeking expert advice from musicologists before releasing their music in an attempt to avoid claims of infringement. This trend rises against the true nature and purpose of copyright – which is to strike the right balance between protecting and encouraging creativity. Instead, copyright is being used as a tool for over-enforcement, causing a chilling effect on creativity.

This research analyses cases of music copying and the legal tests for copyright infringement, advocating for the proper interpretation and application of the law to curb this trend. This project focuses on academic arguments presented in literature as well as educational tools for the music industry and the public to better understand the rules around copying in music copyright.

The aim of this research is the make the rules around copyright infringement clearer to music industry people, and to analyse these legal tests, advocating for their need to be appropriately applied by the judiciary in the context of modern music consumption and creativity. It is therefore relevant to policymakers, judiciary, lawyers and hopes to change the impact of this trend on songwriters.


Meet the Principal Investigator(s) for the project

Dr Hayleigh Bosher
Dr Hayleigh Bosher - Hayleigh is a Reader in Intellectual Property Law and Associate Dean (Professional Development and Graduate Outcomes) at Brunel University London, as well as, Visiting Research Fellow at the Centre for Intellectual Property, Policy and Management, a legal consultant in the creative industries, an advisor for the independent UK charity for professional musicians, Help Musicians, writer and Book Review Editor for the specialist IP blog IPKat. Hayleigh is well-recognised in the field of intellectual property law, in particular copyright law and the creative industries, and has attained an international reputation in the field of music copyright in particular. Her work in this area has been cited extensively in academic, practitioner and policy outputs and she is regularly interviewed by numerous national and international media outlets, including the BBC, ITV, Sky News, Channel 5 News and The Guardian, The Times and The Wall Street Journal. Hayleigh researches in the area of copyright and related laws in the creative industries, particularly in context of music, social media, and artificial intelligence and related technologies. Her research always involves public, policy and industry engagement, with an emphasis on helping creators understand their rights whilst at the same time ensuring that those rights are fairly balanced and adequately supported by law. As such, she is widely published in academic peer-reviewed journals, in the press, and has responded to a number of policy inquiries at international and national level. Her recent book; Copyright in the Music Industry, is accompanied with a playlist and podcast which she produces and co-hosts with Jules O'Riordan (AKA Judge Jules). She appeared before the DCMS Select Committee in relation to their Inquiry on the Economics of Music Streaming, the Science, Innovation and Technology Select Committee for their Inquiry on the Governance of Artificial Intelligence and the House of Lords Communications and Digital Committee on Large Language Models. Hayleigh is a member of the UK Intellectual Property Office Research Experts Advisory Group, the Centre for Artificial Intelligence: Social and Digital Innovation, and the Research Centre for Law, Economics and Finance at Brunel. Hayleigh joined Brunel in 2018, having previously held positions at Coventry University, The University of the Arts London and the Academy of Digital Entertainment, Breda University (Netherlands). 

Partnering with confidence

Organisations interested in our research can partner with us with confidence backed by an external and independent benchmark: The Knowledge Exchange Framework. Read more.

Project last modified 14/11/2023