Tuesday, April 7th, 12:15 – Virtual Guest Speaker: Copyright and Social Justice: How the “Blurred Lines” Case Brought Overdue Recognition for African American Artists,
Co-sponsored by the Black Law Students Association & the Intellectual Property and Technology Law Association
Prof. Sean O’Connor will be a virtual guest speaker, visiting us to discuss how the ruling in the “Blurred Lines” copyright lawsuit against Robin Thicke and Pharell Williams advanced social justice for songwriters from disadvantaged backgrounds. For most of the history of modern popular music, the work of “aural” composers who do not use European-based sheet music was treated unfavorably by the US Copyright Office and the courts. This disparity often allowed artists working in genres such as the blues, jazz, R&B, rap, and rock ‘n’ roll to be exploited and their rights to be disregarded. Prof. O’Connor, who co-authored amicus briefs in this case will discuss this and other cases and explain the social justice dimension of copyright.
Prof. O’Connor is Professor of Law and Executive Director of the Center for the Protection of Intellectual Property (CPIP) at George Mason University, Antonin Scalia Law School. For many years before law school, Prof. O’Connor was a working musician and songwriter. We think you will enjoy hearing him speak — for a sample of another interesting talk he gave, check out Prof. O’Connor’s talk and performance explaining how patented technology — the guitar pickup — shaped the history of popular music. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8m7LKQPCHS0
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