This discussion considers the potential of music notation software to provide more efficient and effective methods of establishing or disproving similarities between musical works than those that have been used until now in music copyright infringement litigation. Most of the techniques offered here of manipulating musical data have been anticipated by musicians who have testified in music copyright cases with cumbersome diagrams, audiotapes, and perhaps even an instrument (the first appearance of which must inevitably spark a frisson of delight among those in the courtroom – dozing jurors particularly). The efficiency, however, with which one can carry out these musical manipulations using notation software, the excellent audio and graphic renditions it produces, and the ease of dissemination of graphic and audio files associated with digital scores, are among the advantages of applying this relatively new technology to this intersection of music and law.

This discussion considers first the applications of notation software and the use of the software itself to demonstrate the similarities or differences between two or more musical works. Second, we consider use of search engines to retrieve prior art from thematic or full score collections of digital music data. Our objective is not to attempt an exhaustive treatment of the applications of these technologies, but rather to provoke readers to experiment with them, or at least to reflect upon their potential efficacy in this area. The discussion poses a number of questions that readers might entertain in developing an understanding of this subject.

 

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