17 September 2012

"Jetpack Blues, Disney Gets Sued[?]"

Credit for tonight's special edition post title goes to Facebook user, Thor Jokie, who commented on a still increasing thread under a post made by one band on Facebook about one hour ago.
(Current time, 9:45PM EST.)

Yes, I know context is needed.

In a still unfolding series of events, it seems New York City based, 8-bit/"Fastest Power Pop" music group, Anamanaguchi has found one of their long established original songs, (or at least a strikingly similar version of such,) currently used in the background of a new app promo video that was posted by the Disney Corporation on July 26th 2012.

To get right to the meat and potatoes of the matter, basically, the band is convinced Disney is using the band's original song, titled, "Jetpack Blues, Sunset Hues" in the background and to make things even more heated, there's currently a comment tug-of-war between Disney's social media managers and Anamanaguchi's fans, who are posting all kinds of comments on the YouTube video in question to call attention to the alleged impermissible copying. Here is the quote from the band's latest Facebook post about the situation, which is also shown in full context:
"in case you missed it, disney totes ripped us off, then deleted all the comments that came in afterwards. pretty unclassy :("

Post from Anamanaguchi's offiical Facebook account concerning the alleged misuse of their song "Jetpack Blues..." from approx. 8:45PM EST, 9/17/12

Since there are many still evolving sets of social media messages and continually changing sets of available content, screenshots are the best material used here for the moment. The next screenshot pictured below is of just a handful of the top, more recent comments left by supporters of the NYC band on the Disney "Pixel'd" App promo video, which as of now live, are no longer visible and have been removed.

Comments left on Disney's "Pixel'd" App promo video as of 9:30PM EST, 9/17/12

Now, with all this sensitive information being very much currently hearsay at the moment, there's no fortified legal input to include on the story. However, let's start with the two pieces of music at hand, compare and go from there. Take a listen:

Here is the official SoundCloud upload of Anamanaguchi's song, "Jetpack Blues, Sunset Hues"




and here is the official video trailer for Disney's "Pixel'd" App, sourced from Disney Video



Now, my personal opinion is that I definitely hear the main melody in both. Disney's "version" is clearly modulated up several steps, but the core material is there. Sans the few sound effects audible for the the app itself, the rest is, at least to me, recognizably similar.

What does this mean for our 8-bit songwriter friends from NYC? Well, opinion on trying to face off against Disney's gargantuan resources aside, from a strictly technical standpoint, there does seem to be at least something the band can scratch at, in terms of legal stance. And don't worry, this isn't a pile of jargon.

When one individual or group wants to test for copyright validity (meaning, did another party use their stuff fairly and appropriately or were they ripped off illegally,) these steps must be taken:

"Test for Copyright
The copyright owner must show:

1) ownership and

2) impermissible copying

Ways of proving ownership: poor man's copyright, witnesses, registering copyright

Proving impermissible copying: other party had access to work and substantially similarity.*

*substantial similarity: An ordinary observer looking at (or listening to) the original work allegedly copied from it, recognizes that a copying has taken place."

(Cit. "Lecture Notes: 2-12-09 "Copyright," Professor Timothy J. McClimon)

Presuming the band can prove copyright ownership and seeing as how the song can be heard anytime, in full, decipherable quality on the band's SoundCloud, (thereby showing access,) and a plethora of ordinary observers (myself included, as I had not heard "Jetpack" up until tonight,)  have clearly voiced their recognition of the melody from one source to the other and vice versa...at least at rough legal glance, this isn't exactly a brush off of a coincidence, as many infringement claims are.

What do YOU think, based on the audio and the rough test for copyright?

Of course, while we're being legally technical here, let me just openly state that I am in no way a lawyer, nor do I represent either the Disney Company or the band Anamanaguchi in any way shape or form --commercial, non or otherwise. My quoting of a test for copyright is merely to provide more than pure subjectivity to this unfolding situation and call attention to a hot button topic that involves active members of the music and creative industries. 

Pending additional major details becoming public knowledge, this article will be edited accordingly. 



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