Sadie Lorence


Legal Studies and Taxation + Arts and Entertainment Management

Advisor: Jessica Magaldi

Document Type



Historically, there has consistently been tension in the music industry between the ideas of ownership and accessibility. This past semester, I researched the history of copyright law and how it has evolved in regard to the licensing of musical works. I have conducted a content analysis of The U.S. Copyright Act in the last century to gain insight into its evolution and advancements. After I gathered an adequate understanding of intellectual property law within the realm of the music industry, I focused my case study research on one milestone example of copyright law’s relationship to issues of licensing and ownership rights within the music industry.

I analyzed The Verve v. The Rolling Stones dispute surrounding the popular song, “Bitter Sweet Symphony,” and how this case study highlighted copyright infringement complications involved when ownership is called into question after sampling. The case also exemplifies the hypocrisy of certain musicians walking the fine line between musical inspiration and copyright infringement. This case research then led me to inquire more about the repercussions of high-profile cases and the difference between being inspired by musical style and directly copying it. My research process and content analysis have cemented my hypothesis that the music industry has been significantly impacted by the complexities of licensing. If different concepts of U.S. copyright law interpretations had been applied, the outcome of the aforementioned case study infringement would have differed or would not have occurred in the first place.