Future’s Legal Victory Means Common Songwriting Techniques Are Not Copyrightable

In a significant legal victory for the music industry, rapper Future has emerged triumphant from a Copyright infringement lawsuit brought against him in 2021. The lawsuit revolved around allegations that Future’s 2018 track, ‘What I Think About It‘, plagiarized an earlier song. The song is by a lesser-known Virginia rapper named DaQuan Robinson. The judge presiding over the case was the Honorable Martha M. Pacold of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. To conclude the case, she dismissed the claims against Future. In the process, she rendered a ruling that sheds light on the intricate intersection of copyright law and artistic expression.

At the heart of Judge Pacold’s ruling lies a crucial precedent that has far-reaching implications for the music industry. The judge cited examples from iconic artists like Wu-Tang Clan, Biggie, and Kanye West to underline the widespread use of thematic elements in Rap and hip-hop. These are elements, such as guns, money, and jewellery. She posited that these themes are so ingrained within the genres that they fall outside the protective umbrella of copyright law. She emphasized that elements commonly found in the treatment of certain topics are not eligible for copyright protection. Further, the judge’s ruling challenges the notion of copyrighting frequently utilized techniques in popular songwriting.

The Verdict and Its Ramifications

Judge Pacold’s ruling, although specific to this case, reverberates throughout the music industry. The judge not only questioned the protectability of themes present in the hip-hop and rap genre but also addressed the concept of “core lyrics“. This is in regard to songwriting as a whole. By referencing the precedent set by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young‘s song ‘Our House‘, the judge made it clear that using a “core lyric” to support a song’s storyline is a common practice in popular songwriting. Thus, it cannot be copyrighted. This ruling now shields artists from undue copyright claims based on commonplace songwriting techniques. Furthermore, it also emphasizes the importance of artistic freedom and innovation within musical expression.

In conclusion, Future’s resounding victory in the copyright infringement lawsuit underscores the evolving landscape of copyright law in the digital age. The subsequent declaration by Judge Pacold regarding frequently used techniques in popular songwriting amplifies this. This landmark decision stands as a testament to the intricate balance between protecting artists’ intellectual property and fostering a creative environment. An environment that thrives on artistic inspiration and shared conventions. For more information, be sure to check out the official ruling, here.

[H/T] – Digital Music News