Resource: Music Copyright Infringement Resource

Music Copyright Infringement: Global Perspectives  

On March 18, 2022, with financial sponsorship from Davis Wright Tremaine, George Washington University Law School’s Intellectual Property Program and University of Illinois, Chicago Law School held an online conference on adjudication of music copyright infringement disputes within various national copyright regimes in Asia, Europe, and North America.


This was the first conference in which the views on infringement litigation of copyright academics and practitioners from diverse nations was discussed alongside those of musicologists and theorists. This cross-pollination of ideas relating to national copyright regimes and musical expertise might spark new insights into adjudication of music infringement disputes, as well as those involving other genres of expression, in the U.S. and overseas. We hope to hold, during academic year 2022-23, a more extensive, and largely in-person, discussion of this topic in Washington, at George Washington University Law School.


Here is a link to a recording of the March 18, 2022 conference, provided by its co-sponsor, University of Illinois, Chicago Law School.

Foreign cases

We are expanding this project to include information about music copyright infringement cases litigated in courts outside the U.S. Readers can identify these by the 2- or 3-letter country code given in the cases list. While we do not anticipate providing the virtually comprehensive coverage that we offer for U.S. cases, we hope to provide a representative sampling of cases offering insights into similarities and differences in the handling and disposition of these disputes among various national copyright regimes.

Patrick Savage, Associate Professor at Keio University in Tokyo, has shared with us documentation for Japanese music infringement cases he has studied in connection with his work on use of quantitative information to determine musical similarity. (Select the text “Creative Thinking about Musical Similarity” at the bottom of this page to learn more about his research.) ??????????? Pat!

Jonathan Huber, a recent graduate at Hannover’s Hochschule für Musik, Theater und Medien, now working with GEMA in Munich, has provided us a valuable cache of information about German cases. These primary source materials were the basis of his Master’s thesis dealing with German music copyright infringement disputes between 1966 – 2020. Vielen Dank Jonathan! Leonie Schwanneke, student of Prof. Linda Kuschel at Bucerius Law School in Hamburg has offered to  assist with drafting original commentary, and analyses of these cases. Vielen Dank ebenfalls an Leonie! 

Gauthier Lunardi, a law student at Université Grenoble Alpes, is gathering and contributing to this resource, documentation and commentary on music copyright infringement cases in France. Un grand merci, Gauthier!

And many thanks to Prof. Daniel Müllensiefen of Goldsmiths, Univ. of London, and Robert Cason, Lecturer in Law, Univ. of Bristol, for their contribution of documents and commentary concerning disputes in Commonwealth nations including the UK, Australia, and Canada.

Likewise, Chien-Chih Lu, recently minted Berkeley J.S.D., now Assistant Prof., National Chengchi University College, and accomplished jazz musician, has generously shared with us documentation he has gathered relating to recent music infringement cases in China and Taiwan.

Previous news items …

Katherine Leo’s (J.D.; Ph.D. musicology) book (2020) on the evolving role of “forensic musicologists” in litigating music copyright infringement disputes.

Gary Rosen’s Adventures of a Jazz Age Lawyer: Nathan Burkan and the Making of American Popular Culture (University of California Press 2020)

Denouement in the “Blurred Lines” dispute

Music Modernization Act

Creative thinking about musical similarity