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The hipster perspective on plagiarism is exactly what is needed

Hide those millions, Haim sisters.
  • Hide those millions, Haim sisters.

Dear Hipster:

So, this lawsuit where Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke have to pay Marvin Gaye’s heirs seven million dollars has me and the rest of the world wondering, Where does it end? Maybe the jurors were the same ones who decided Ballast Point had to rename Yellowtail Pale Ale! Could Craft and Commerce sue the Lion’s Share? Will Max Azria file suit against Broke Girls Coffee Bar? Maybe I’m reaching on that one...but you catch my drift! Does this open the door for frivolous lawsuits to fly in like birds on the wing?

— Don, Kensington

Mashup: I Want A New Drug vs. Ghostbusters

It’s not like this is a new thing. Huey Lewis and the News successfully sued Ray Parker Jr. for infringement because the Ghostbusters song deliberately imitates “I Want a New Drug.” The “Blurred Lines” verdict may or may not constitute a lasting legal precedent. If true, that it’s open season on plagiarism lawsuits, sit back and watch, because this could get funny. I’d indulge a sardonic chuckle or two if Disney sued Vampire Weekend because “M79” sounds vaguely like the music from the Electric Light Parade. And I guess it’s only a matter of time before the Eagles sue Haim for ripping off “Heartache Tonight.”

Yeah, that’s right, we noticed. Better hide those millions, Haim sisters. You think you can suspend a chord over a slow drum beat and get away with it? Not on my watch.

People may wonder, What qualifies Mr. Hipster, esq. to weigh in on this legal matter? Fear not, skeptics, I assure you that the hipster perspective is exactly the one we need here. I refuse to speculate on copyright law because I can’t make that interesting. But I know a thing or two about people being annoyed/offended/indignant/litigious over Things Resembling Other Things a Bit Too Closely.

Robin Thicke feat. Marvin Gaye

Got To Give Up The Blurred Lines (Mashup)

Got To Give Up The Blurred Lines (Mashup)

The (here it comes!) blurry line between imitation and innovation has always been one of hipsterism’s most vexing contradictions. People despise how hipsters play bricolage with past styles, but the way that hipsters and artists constantly re-imagine the world has birthed more innovative things than I care to count. I’m not convinced Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams should have been found culpable for infringing anyone’s copyright, but I’ve always had the sneaking suspicion that nothing great comes out of nowhere. Show me a good song about which nobody can say, “Hey, that kinda sounds like XYZ,” and I’ll show you a miracle.

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As they say, there are no original plots for stories. They've all been done thousands of times. Even Shakespeare got his story lines from previous authors. The hit show "Empire" with its backstabbing behavior is not that different from the plays back in ancient Rome and Greece!

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