How Original Is Anything You Do ?

As Sony Music announce an amnesty for samplers, it begs the question of how original any combination of seven notes can be: minors and majors, timbre, sustain, emphasis, chords, arrangement and many other musical devices extend this most basic of vocabularies, but at the end of the day, you're rehashing the same old stuff. And as rock music moves towards its seventieth year, it's not surprising if it sounds like everything has been done at least a few times.

So, how do you differentiate between what is original, what is copied, what is 'sampled' and what is coincidence ?

Of course, if this is true for music it's even more true in film and TV making, where seven is again the magical number.

And,, come to that, can you ever write original code or come up with an app that hasn't been done amongst the one and a half million odd ones already out there ?

Yet, our IP regime is based around the concept of original work, a concept that is becoming less and less easy to enforce.

Of course, copying a plot and all screens, or a song and all parts is one thing, but how small does a work need to be before you can claim originality ? The Intel sound theme, the Easterners drum roll ?

How original does a work need to be ? Most modern music is hugely derivative, deliberately or not. Once upon a time, God Save The King was the national anthem used by most countries (it's still used by Lichtenstein..), yet Happy Birthday is still a copyright protected work (you should be paying a fee every time you perform it in public, or be somewhere that has already paid the fee).

This is what makes Sony's move interesting: rights are generally thought to vest in whole works: what Sony are doing is moving the discussion on and establishing Elemental Rights. Clever.