The RIAA has won a ruling that the DMCA‘s provision that forbids backward engineering software to see how it work applies also to musical recordings. The ruling forbids any attempt to figure out the melody, arrangement, or chord progression of any copyrighted song, whether that figuring out is done mentally, at a keyboard, or using software. It also forbids graphical displays based on the music, including the psychedelic visualizations that come with many music players or the tapping of feet to beats embedded in a copyrighted work. An exemption has been made for those with perfect pitch, although they are not allowed to transmit or communicate the internal structures of music that they have mentally decoded.
The RIAA has also announced that it will sue to protect all who claim unique musical contributions to the culture. As a result, Pat Boone now owns the Motown sound, John Lennon owns singing above one’s natural range as a way of expressing emotion, Cat Stevens owns singing below one’s natural range for the same purpose, and Van Morrison has been awarded custody of any two-chord song to which musicians improvise while high enough on marijuana that they think other people are enjoying it.
An RIAA spokesmen expressed delight with the ruling and the new set of protections: “We think we’re now within sight of producing the last two or three original songs, and then the entire culture can call it a day.”
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