Laidback Luke laid down law on the "Blurred Lines" controversy in an op-ed just published by Billboard, and it's spot on.
If you've been alive the last couple weeks, you know Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke just got shut down by Marvin Gaye's family for similarities between their song and a couple Marvin Gaye classics.
But how does EDM feel? Leave it to Luke. The producer is a huge name who notes that he's been on both sides of copyright suits. The issue for EDM, of course, is the plethora of tracks available to manipulate and steal. Luke even describes a "wild west" of bootlegging and said he's been sent mixes where people just swap their name onto existing songs. But before we go guns blazing, defending ourselves from a culture bastardized by hedonistic thieves, Luke issues a warning.
"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." -Laidback Luke
The point he makes is spot on. Where do you draw the line?
We hope Luke got permission to be Iron Man
The problem is, there is no definitive law in the land. While the US Copyright Office offers some guidance, the language is so vague you might as well not even try making music.
"There is no specific number of words, lines, or notes that may safely be taken without permission. Acknowledging the source of the copyrighted material does not substitute for obtaining permission." -US Copyright Law FL-102
By this standard we could be jailing just about anyone. These trigger-happy lawsuits can be even more dangerous to our society than the petty thieves running rampant. Why? Because they could stop people from ever leaving their homes in fear of being persecuted - aka, a chilling effect.
While Laidback Luke seems to take this stance, he also asks if this might cause musicians to be more creative. This could happen, but it could just as easily prevent creativity from taking place which we feel is much worse.
In the end, Luke points to the future noting his label's plans to swim with the "stream" rather than against it - something we're in complete agreement with. We're not saying there wasn't justification against Williams and Thicke, but Laidback's Luke note of general caution should be heeded before we start destroying everything and everyone that stands in the way of the past.
Read Laidback Luke's full editorial with song samples on Billboard