Journal of Law and Policy


Progress in the arts—the fundamental goal of copyright law in the United States—requires a balance between granting creators exclusive rights over their works and allowing others the room to create new works. This is particularly crucial in pop music, where melodies are composed within narrow musical structures out of a limited set of notes. Recent verdicts, however, have shown that courts are becoming more willing to find copyright infringement based on relatively simple melodies in pop music, even where such melodies do not constitute the “hook” or most memorable part of the allegedly infringing work. This Note posits that, in order to restore the necessary balance to promote progress in pop music, courts should apply a new test for originality, substantial similarity, and fair use with regard to melodies.