Honors Projects


Contemporary copyright decisions by Federal Courts perplex composers; am I the creative composer, or am I an infringer on someone else’s intellectual property? By forming a temporary monopoly to monetize new content, copyright protection incentivizes artists to be fruitful. In a creative field like music, an overly broad definition of copyrightable expression can lead to a “chilling effect” on creativity. This chilling effect is exacerbated by the great latitude given expert witnesses to claim infringement based on broad classifications of expressions. My paper addresses the question: To what extent should expert witnesses be probative when they extend ownership rights beyond the composition and into abstract categories that encompass the composition. My legal analysis begins with Richard Jones’ seminal 1990 Pace Law Review article about why the idea-expression dichotomy problematic and continues with Paul Grinvalsky’s 1992 California Western Law Review article discussing problems inherent in the idea-expression dichotomy in music. The next step in my inquiry was to search for case law that applied different boundary levels for experts in copyright cases. [See Arnstein (1946), Krofft (1977), Williams (2015). This research demonstrates how unchecked expert testimony can create confusion in court, stifling creativity in music copyright cases.


Music Performance Studies


Music Performance

First Advisor

Eftychia Papanikolaou

First Advisor Department


Second Advisor

Nora Engebretsen-Broman

Second Advisor Department


Publication Date

Spring 5-1-2017