Kwadjo Boateng

Major and Classification

Cognitive Science

Faculty Mentor

Joanna Demers, Ph.D., Thornton School of Music


Dornsife: Neuroscience

Research Gateway Project

“Whose Song Is It?”

Project Abstract

The music you listen to has rights—these rights are embodied within the lyrics, melody and recording of a song. This ownership of rights is established as intellectual property—the intangible property that includes books, scripts, films, and music. This study discusses how intellectual property concerning sampling, remixes, derivatives, and moral rights fits within the U.S territory in the current music industry. The significance of this study is to demonstrate the need for Congress to promote the arts and advancement of science, while still protecting an artist/musicians rights. A qualitative methodological approach is used by performing two case studies on the following recordings: “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke and “Big Pimpin” by Jay Z, by analyzing text that specifically discuss the lawsuit cases and the precedent and results that can be established. The importance of this paper is to show that music is not a simple fixed service, but one that has the ability to connect to a greater audience on a psychological level that is intimate and personal. The findings have revealed the difficulty of protecting an artist rights, as well as promoting the progress of creativity for the public. The case studies used demonstrate the current law systems difficulty in handling music copyright in the age of rising sampling. In the current music industry, the rate of technological advancement and consistent transition of creativity demonstrate the fluidity of intellectual property uses from sampling, derivatives, and remixes in the market and the need to discuss moral rights.