Saturday, June 30, 2012

Barry Manilow plagiarized classical music

Barry Manilow's "Could It Be Magic" is based on Chopin's Prelude in C minor, Op.28, No.20.  But nobody accuses Manilow of plagiarism.

How old does a song have to be before it's "ok" to "rip it off"?  George Harrison got sued for "My Sweet Lord" because of its similarity to "He's So Fine"--probably because they were produced within a few decades of each other.  But if you listen to those songs, do you really think they are the same song?  What nonsense, what drivel--sharing a bar or two is something that composers do.

Could it be...and I hesitate to suggest this revolutionary concept...but could it be that the law of copyright has absolutely nothing to do with art, and its worthiness?  Could it be actually a massive distraction from the creation of human culture?

But how can we make art without lawyers?  

God knows when I sit down to write this blog, my first thought is always that I should consult a lawyer before uttering truths (at least as I see it).

But of course, since I'm not getting paid for this work, there is no way it can possibly exist.

In fact, all the blogs on the internet do not exist, obviously, since they are not created under any kind of contract, have no distribution contracts in place, and anybody can just go download them at any time!


  1. Manilow also CLEARLY gives credit to the Chopin prelude though

  2. Yes, but did he pay royalties? And is it still real and original music?

  3. I don't consider what Mr. Manilow did with "Could It Be Magic" to be plagiarism... certainly not in the truest sense.

    The definition of plagiarism is "the practice of someone else's work or ideas and passing them off as your own".

    While Mr. Manilow has occasionally joked about "ripping off Chopin", the plagiarism charge doesn't stand because he has never said the "Prelude Op. 28, No. 20 in C minor" was his own composition and he clearly gives Frederic Chopin songwriting credit.

    And in regards to copyright, the vast majority, if not all, of Chopin's compositions have long since been transferred into the Public Domain because the copyrights have expired. Being in the Public Domain, royalties for use no longer apply.

    As such, Chopin's compositions (either whole or in part) may be freely used to create derivative works, and those works may be copyrighted by the person or persons who have created any such said derivative work.

  4. Thanks for that insightful comment, Michelle.

    I'm kinda being tongue in cheek ;-)

    My bigger point is that copying is an inherent and natural part of musical composition, and I don't think people have any business suing each other over it, in general.

    Bear in mind, if Chopin wrote his music today, it would be 150 years before a Barry Manilow could use it the way he did, in theory.

    1. He was wrong to use it in that way and to not CORRECTLY specify what he did, note for note; it is not an inspiration it is a rip off by someone with no integrity otherwise he would have correctly credited the use of it, and in most cases. a serious composer would not take such a big portion of someone else's work anyway.

  5. What I hate is when a music corporation that makes plenty of music already steals my original compositions and makes me shut them down on YouTube giving me strikes against my own account, If I had the money, I would sue their pants off. The problem is that a lot of us composers are very poor.

  6. I don't mind someone playing and improving the music I write, but if they make money off of it, they shou8ld at least share some with me.

  7. I agree, Carl. You'll see elsewhere in this blog my own struggled with YouTube (or rather Sony) getting my legitimately licensed music pulled. Maddening.

    I can only imagine it's 10x worse when it's music you wrote!

    If someone is making money off your work though, I'd expect you could find an attorney who would work on spec (and I'd definitely recommend it!)

  8. I do not know all of the facts but based on what I do know, do with that conditional, to say he was "inspired" by Chopin is not accurate as he took the entire section of the chopin piece note for note; that is not "inspired by" that is a rip. it is not only a matter of royalties, it is a matter of fraud and lack of integrity. as a composer myself and a former student at Juilliard, i regard this as a total fraud, attempt to mislead, and plagiarism, otherwise it would have been credited correctly. If a quote of Shakespeare is used, it is credited to Shakespeare, not called an "inspiration". This Manilow thing is just very bad form, and totally unethical. i find it disgusting.