In 1992 and in 1993, Ricky Allen wrote the music and lyrics to a song about a man catering to his woman and doing all the things that she wanted. In 2006, Allen sued the pop group Destiny’s Child for copying his song to create one of their hits, “Cater 2 U”. The two songs were seen a dissimilar as far as the aspects of the music but the story in the songs were very similar. The suit was settled outside of court and the details for the settlement were never disclosed. Allen sued a number of people including Robert Waller, Robert Morrison, and Ricky Lewis who collaboratively produced, recorded, and published the song with the band. Maurice Joshua, who remixed the song after all the work was done, was also sued. Allen had register the song under four copyright labels and that it was protected by the law. Legally a copyright means that a musician, author, or artist has a “limited duration monopoly” on anything he creates. The US Constitution, Article 1, Section 8, grants the government power “to promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries”. My overall opinion on the suit, which was the presiding judge’s opinion as well, was that Destiny’s Child shouldn’t have settled and taken Allen to court. I thought that the song lyrics and musical melodies were completely different and just because the story line of the song was similar, they were still meant to be sang to different gender. I saw this as someone taking the opportunity to try and get money from people who were more successful than themselves. I feel like Milton would agree with the judge’s and my thoughts on this case. In his speech Areopagita he states,
“When a man writes to the world, he summons up all his reason and deliberation to assist him; he searches, meditats, is industrious, and likely consults and conferrs with
his judicious friends; after all which done he takes himself to be inform’d in what
he writes, as well as any that writ before him…”
I believe that this idea that artist feed off each other and look to each other as inspiration creates the great music we have today. Overall, every musician has someone who they look up to and someone who has created great hits that they aspire to create too. I think Lessig would like there to be some copyrights set forth but he would want them to be limited in manner and application. “These constraints instead will be burdens created by law—by intellectual property as well as other government-granted exclusive rights”. He is presenting this idea that copyrights serve a purpose but, when they are applied to every little thing in every scenario, they inhibit people from creation and limit the ability to make any artistic and/or intellectual inspirations without have to check the law for everything. I know that Kant says that we have to break free of the ties of society in order to be enlightened and original and though I agree with that in a sense, I feel like part of creating new and innovative things is look to other people’s accomplishments and becoming inspired to create something just as great, if not better. Kant would love copyright laws because i think he would feel that they put a stop to nonage. “Nonage is the inability to use one’s own understanding without another’s guidance”. I think Kant would feel that these laws prohibiting the ability to copy others work would force people into shedding their nonage and think for themselves. He would think that it would inspire more original thought. I think that Destiny’s Child did not copy the song Allen wrote any way but the story line in the song was used before them and before Allen even, and if it were not for the pre-existence of that story line, then there would be no case to discuss and no hits to listen to.