Social media blew up in the past few days because Justin Bieber is being sued over his song ‘Sorry’. Casey Dienel, an indie-pop artist from White Hinterland filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Justin Bieber and Skrillex, stating that the single borrows from her song "Ring the Bell."
She wrote on her Facebook: “As many of you that follow my career and work have already recognised, Justin Bieber's song 'Sorry' copies the vocal riff prominently featured in my song 'Ring the Bell. The writers, producers and performers of 'Sorry' did not obtain a license for this exploitation of my work, nor did they obtain or seek my permission.”
"Like most artists that sample music, Bieber could have licensed my song for use in 'Sorry.' But he chose not to contact me. After the release of 'Sorry,' my lawyers sent Bieber a letter regarding the infringement, but Bieber’s team again chose to ignore me." Dienel also added that she was left with "no other option" but to file a lawsuit in order to "stand up for my music and art". "I have worked very hard to preserve my independence and creative control, thus it came as a shock to hear my work used and exploited without permission.”
Mentioned the word ‘sorry’ over five times now - sorry, not sorry.
Enough of the sentiment for the little-guy, there is a bigger issue that society in this creatively-expanding world needs to tackle - we need to acknowledge that ideas and creativity don’t come from thin air and should not be considered as property.
The American Copyright and Patent Acts from 1790 were made to create a rich public domain to expand creativity - not to become territorial. Kirby Ferguson from Everything is a Remix perfectly explains the history and issues that make copyright. I highly suggest that you watch the whole thing for a better understanding, but if you cannot focus for more than half an hour, you can skip to part 4 [22:50 onwards] if you want to only focus on the legal aspect. Evolution of work should be based on ‘copy, transform, combine’. We feel fine to copy ideas from others, but feel threatened when that is done to us. Even non-creatives, like sample trolls and patent trolls, found a way to sue and get rich effortlessly.
Casey Dienel's move may be protective over her work, but also could be strategic to gain more popularity. One thing for certain, Dienel isn’t a mastermind and like any other artist, was inspired by others. I wonder how long it will take the internet to figure out which riff she stole?