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My Sweet Lord and He’s So Fine: An Early Precursor of A Modern Issue Len Rabinowitz.

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Presentation on theme: "My Sweet Lord and He’s So Fine: An Early Precursor of A Modern Issue Len Rabinowitz."— Presentation transcript:

1 My Sweet Lord and He’s So Fine: An Early Precursor of A Modern Issue Len Rabinowitz

2 My Sweet Lord and He’s So Fine: An Early Precursor of A Modern Issue The Songs: You Decide The Songs: You Decide He’s So Fine recorded in 1962 He’s So Fine recorded in 1962 Topped US Billboard charts Topped US Billboard charts Beatles not big in US in 1962 Beatles not big in US in 1962 Song reached number 12 in England in 1963 during a week that the Beatles were number 1 Song reached number 12 in England in 1963 during a week that the Beatles were number 1 Harrison admitted that he knew the song Harrison admitted that he knew the song

3 My Sweet Lord and He’s So Fine: An Early Precursor of A Modern Issue He’s So Fine languished He’s So Fine languished My Sweet Lord generated in jam session with Billy Preston, Question of authorship My Sweet Lord generated in jam session with Billy Preston, Question of authorship Preston released the song before Harrison- Harrison listed as sole author Preston released the song before Harrison- Harrison listed as sole author Song was a huge hit when recorded and released by Harrison Song was a huge hit when recorded and released by Harrison Bright Tunes Music- the owner of He’s So Fine- brought suit on February 10, 1971 Bright Tunes Music- the owner of He’s So Fine- brought suit on February 10, 1971 Billy Preston and George Harrison with President Ford, 1974

4 My Sweet Lord and He’s So Fine: An Early Precursor of A Modern Issue Judge (a musician, but more classically oriented- less improvisational) focused on two phrases of melody Judge (a musician, but more classically oriented- less improvisational) focused on two phrases of melody Other major differences not considered Other major differences not considered Harrison knew of earlier song; claimed no intent Harrison knew of earlier song; claimed no intent Harrison found guilty of “subconscious plagiarism” Harrison found guilty of “subconscious plagiarism” Judge: “Perfectly obvious… the two songs are virtually identical” Judge: “Perfectly obvious… the two songs are virtually identical” Upheld on appeal; Intent not necessary for plagiarism Upheld on appeal; Intent not necessary for plagiarism Judge’s decision centered on these phrases

5 My Sweet Lord and He’s So Fine: An Early Precursor of A Modern Issue Initial decision came in 1976 Initial decision came in 1976 Early decision that got musicians thinking about “influence” and “original” Early decision that got musicians thinking about “influence” and “original” Professional digital recording began a few years later Professional digital recording began a few years later Digital audio sampling- artists using phrases from other artists in recordings- was huge issue in the 1980’s for musicians, well before MP3 for consumers Digital audio sampling- artists using phrases from other artists in recordings- was huge issue in the 1980’s for musicians, well before MP3 for consumers This Yamaha recorder allows sampling CD’s into your own recordings

6 My Sweet Lord and He’s So Fine: An Early Precursor of A Modern Issue Ethical Analysis Ethical Analysis Kant, 1 st formulation: Kant, 1 st formulation: “Act only from moral rules that you can at the same time will to be universal moral laws” “Act only from moral rules that you can at the same time will to be universal moral laws” Can musicians unconsciously borrow from each other? Can musicians unconsciously borrow from each other? Proposed Rule: Musicians can unconsciously borrow from each other Proposed Rule: Musicians can unconsciously borrow from each other Musicians have always influenced and borrowed each other; Impossible to eradicate influences Musicians have always influenced and borrowed each other; Impossible to eradicate influences Universal Rule: Musicians may unconsciously borrow from each other Universal Rule: Musicians may unconsciously borrow from each other Musicians continue making music as they always have Musicians continue making music as they always have Rule is acceptable; Under this analysis judge got it wrong Rule is acceptable; Under this analysis judge got it wrong A stressed-out musician

7 My Sweet Lord and He’s So Fine: An Early Precursor of A Modern Issue Kant, 2 nd Formulation Kant, 2 nd Formulation “Act so that you treat both yourself and other people as ends in themselves and never only as means to an end” “Act so that you treat both yourself and other people as ends in themselves and never only as means to an end” Improvisatory musicians use their influences as means to an end Improvisatory musicians use their influences as means to an end Musicians must consider or cite influences before playing Musicians must consider or cite influences before playing Judge’s decision likely correct under this formulation Judge’s decision likely correct under this formulation A musician “fighting the power!”

8 My Sweet Lord and He’s So Fine: An Early Precursor of A Modern Issue Social Contract Theory Social Contract Theory Law is a form of social contract Law is a form of social contract Current law recognizes intellectual property and says works are born copyrighted Current law recognizes intellectual property and says works are born copyrighted Modern musician’s heavy use of borrowing and influences without citation likely violates social contract of law Modern musician’s heavy use of borrowing and influences without citation likely violates social contract of law By this analysis behavior of modern musicians is unethical By this analysis behavior of modern musicians is unethical

9 My Sweet Lord and He’s So Fine: An Early Precursor of A Modern Issue The Cardinal Virtues: The Cardinal Virtues: Judgment: Harrison showed poor judgment in writing the song as written. He could have known it was too similar Judgment: Harrison showed poor judgment in writing the song as written. He could have known it was too similar Honesty: Harrison was honest in acknowledging knowledge of the other song Honesty: Harrison was honest in acknowledging knowledge of the other song Prudence: Writing songs for popular consumption is not a prudent act Prudence: Writing songs for popular consumption is not a prudent act Courage: Writing songs for popular consumption is courageous Courage: Writing songs for popular consumption is courageous Justice: Justice was eventually done for the owner of the song- not necessarily the performer. Harrison was harmed Justice: Justice was eventually done for the owner of the song- not necessarily the performer. Harrison was harmed Self mastery: Complex. Harrison could have thought this through more. However, professional songwriting requires considerable focus and determination. Self mastery: Complex. Harrison could have thought this through more. However, professional songwriting requires considerable focus and determination. On the whole, Harrison’s actions come up short in the cardinal virtues On the whole, Harrison’s actions come up short in the cardinal virtues

10 My Sweet Lord and He’s So Fine: An Early Precursor of A Modern Issue References: References: The “My Sweet Lord”/”He’s So Fine” Plagiarism Suit. Article written by Joseph C. Self, Accessed on July 12, The “My Sweet Lord”/”He’s So Fine” Plagiarism Suit. Article written by Joseph C. Self, Accessed on July 12, George Harrison and The Chiffons. n.aspx. Author unknown. Accessed on July 12, George Harrison and The Chiffons. n.aspx. Author unknown. Accessed on July 12, n.aspx n.aspx


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