In 1970 George Harrison released the song ‘My Sweet Lord’. Six years later he was found guilty of copyright infringement, with it being judged that his song plagiarised The Chiffons hit ‘He’s So Fine’ (a fantastic song, as it happens). Harrison was found to have ‘unconsciously copied the tune’.
To me, the songs sound incredibly similar, mainly in the chorus part. They do have differences which separates them from being exact copies, those being mainly instrumental. Overall, they seem to be based on the same musical structure.
As a comparison – 5=exactly the same 4=Very similar 3=Somewhat Alike 2=Barely the same 1=not alike in any way
Harmony/Chordal Structure: 4
The songs are very similar in vocals, with the lyrics ‘I don’t know how I’m gonna do it/I’m gonna make him mine/be the envy of all the girls/It’s just a matter of time’ and ‘I really want to see you/I really want to be with you/Really want to see you lord’, and ‘He’s so fine/Wish he were mine/That handsome boy over there/The one with wavy hair’ and ‘My sweet Lord, Hm my Lord/ Hm my Lord’ being very alike in harmony and melody.
They differ mainly in instruments, with My Sweet lord being largely guitar driven, whereas in He’s So Fine the vocals are the main component.
In the 1995 film 12 Monkeys, Bruce Willis’ character is interrogated in a room with a chair raised off the ground. The room in that scene bears a striking resemblance to an artwork by Lebbeus Woods from 1987…
There is no doubt that the drawing by Lebbeus was the basis for this room – admitted even by the director Terry Gilliam. Apart from a couple of differences with what appears to be wires, the chair in both the drawing and movie are the same.
This video was created by Keir Smith in response to the Australian Government’s ‘Fair Use and other Copyright Exceptions: An examination of fair use, fair dealing and other exceptions in the Digital Age’ Issues paper, 2005.
Keir Smith’s video, a remix or montage of popular and iconic media, should not be viewed as ‘illegal’ in the sense of copyright. He is not trying to blatantly pass off others work as his own. Instead, he is using music, video and images to create something new, that uses the source itself and thus is not the same case as Issue #1.
This should be deemed as fair use. It’s not too dissimilar to a DJ mixing two or more songs together, using those songs to create something different.