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Music Matters - Lessons to Learn From The Miley Cyrus and Flourgon Copyright Issue

When a 300 million USD lawsuit was brought against internationally acclaimed artist Miley Cyrus for copyright infringement on her 2013 single, 'We Can't Stop' music pundits weigh in on the issue and made some important points to learn from. As we aim to inform and/or motivate the readers we bring you to excerpt from a discussion surrounding the matter for a better understanding of copyright laws and/or how easily one can find themself in violation of another person's work. 

In post that was published on Facebook, Mr. Clyde McKenzie whose client Beenie Man had a "first-hand experience of how an infringement could have easily happened with a music video project" he coordinated involving Beenie Man and Janet Jackson he explained, "were it not for the willingness of those with whom I was working to admit that an error had indeed been made on our part and that we should move quickly to fix the matter."

Read Mr. Mckenzie's story below:-
It was around 2002 and I was having breakfast with Patrick Moxey then an AnR Executive at Virgin Records (to which Beenie Man was signed) at the Mondrian Hotel on Sunset Boulevard in California. We were making sure we had a solid breakfast before heading off to Malibu for the shoot of the "Feel It Boy" video featuring Janet Jackson later that day.

By way of introduction, Patrick Moxey is the founder and CEO of Ultra Records/Music which has given us such smash hits as 'Turn Down For What' (Pitbull) and 'Cheerleader' (Omi). He is a very meticulous and knowledgeable music executive which perhaps explains his enormous success in the business.

So while we were eating I casually mentioned to Moxey about the clearances for the samples (publishing) which had been used in the song. Moxey blanched as he realized that we were in the process of shooting a 1 million USD video and there was uncertainty surrounding the clearances of the samples in the song. This could have had huge implications for the cost and viability of the project.

Now the song had more samples than a cocktail promotion in a mall. The fact is when artistes are creating they are often times unmindful of such 'annoyances' as samples and their clearances. In fact, many times they might not be really aware of, that they are using lines from the works of others. It is left up to the management and record label to spot these unauthorized uses and seek permission from the rights holders.  The fact is that in some instances the management and the label might not be aware when a sample is used and just overlook it resulting in major problems

In the case of 'Feel it Boy' I had forwarded a list of the samples I had identified to Virgin for them to secure clearance as was the norm. I knew that because the samples used were from Jamaican songs those persons at Virgin tasked with the responsibility of getting clearance might not be familiar with the source of the original works. Though getting clearance for the song was neither my nor Moxey's responsibility it was still expected that we would use our greater familiarity with the artiste and his music in enabling the process.

Moxey and I were never informed whether clearance for the song had been secured. That fateful morning we simply assumed that no clearance had not been secured (we were right) and took matters into our own hands. The fact is that putting out a record (album) with a major label has hundreds of moving parts and people and things can easily slip through the cracks. 

Fortunately, Moxey and I jumped on the matter calling our attorney, Jay Quatrini (sadly now deceased) who was in Britain and was hooking us up with people in a number of different time zines to secure clearances. We eventually managed to track down the various rights holders involved and struck the appropriate deals with them thus bringing a happy ending to the story.

So let us not blame Mylie for this error as it might have been committed innocently. What perhaps happened is that when the error was discovered her handlers dug in because people might have become aware of what had taken place months after that hair raisin experience. 

Extracted from a Facebook post written by  Mr. Clyde Paul McKenzie

For more Info on Copyrights:
Click links below to listen to Part 1 and 2 of a discussion with Entertainment Attorney Mr. Lloyd Stanbury Interview on Groovin Radio
Part 1 - Music Copy Rights
Part 2 - Music Copy Rights