Baby Shark Copyright Attack

From American University Intellectual Property Brief:

If you have been around any children or active on social media, you may be familiar with “Baby Shark.” Pinkfong, a South Korean company, released an English version of Baby Shark two years ago, which after going viral recently, has garnered about 2.2 billion views.

Baby Shark was so popular that the conservative Liberty Korea party used the song during their campaigns for local elections. SmartStudy, the start-up behind the Pinkfong brand, threatened to sue the Liberty Korea party for copyright infringement. The Liberty Korea party then brandished an email from Johnny Only, a musician that had his own version of Baby Shark. Only said the song is public domain and anyone could use it.

“The wheels in my head start turning,” said Only. “If Pinkfong’s song is so close to mine that they can’t even tell the difference, and Pinkfong tries to claim copyright infringement against their version when the political party is using my version, doesn’t that mean that my version also has copyright protection?”

Soon after, Only filed for damages against SmartStudy, claiming that the Pinkfong version is too similar to his 2011 song. Only said that the Pinkfong version of Baby Shark had the same key, same tempo, same melody, and same rhythm.

On the face of it, Baby Shark seems to be a reproduction of Only’s version with slight changes. However, Only said that Baby Shark was a traditional song that has been passed down orally in summer camps for generations. “Baby shark is as old as fairy tales. It is as old as the spoken tradition,” said Only. The song uses folk music techniques to allow the singer to improvise and adapt its lyrics to excite and engage children.

Link to the rest at Intellectual Property Brief

PG feels he should issue some sort of trigger warning, but is not certain whether it should be for excessive mawkishness or earworm potential.

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