Does Five For Fighting’s “Superman (It’s Not Easy)” Infringe Angie Aparo’s “Seed?”

In a very good post yesterday, Kate M Singleton stated that she thinks we should be able to copy short excerpts of others’ expression.  She also brought up a potential borrowing or copyright infringement example.  She posed the question – did a song by Five For Fighting infringe a song by Angie Aparo.

I decided that her thoughtful answer to my question deserved its own post.  Here are links to both songs:

Angie Aparo – “Seed”

Five for Fighting – Superman (It’s not Easy)”

I’d like for almost all of my posts to have visual interest – you know, a photograph.  So, here’s the photo I’ve selected – a tiger behind bars.  The tiger is beautiful but possibly angry at being locked up.  Perhaps the tiger’s song has been infringed and he wants to – get ready for a rhyme – get the HELL out of the CELL.

Tiger in Cage

OK – now on to my response to her post.

I agree with Kate – I think we should be able to take expression from others and use it.  Or re-use it, as a defendant-type or one of those RE-MIX people – those COPY-LEFT’ers – might say or write.  And we should be able to take things – expression – without asking permission.

We teach our children to STEAL other peoples’ thoughts without asking permission.  (I’m referring to what some teachers and professors do – make their students write “papers” that consist of their own thoughts mixed with the (better, older and more respected) thoughts of others.  We FORCE THEM TO STEAL.   All we ask is that our students have to correctly indicate (cite) their exact source(s).  We would not allow them to even ask for permission.  (Imagine writing to Houghton Mifflin to ask for their permission to copy a short paragraph?  They’d never get back to the student in a timely manner, if at all, and then the student’s paper would be late.  Despite the student’s honorable intention and actions, the student would flunk even though all the student was trying to do was abide by the U. S. Copyright Act.  Asking permission to use copyrighted material in this instance would be harmful to one’s education!)

Kate stated her opinion well.  I’m simply agreeing with her – that one should be able to use preexisting creative expression without asking for permission.

NEXT—-  was Angie Aparo’s “Seed” infringed – ripped off, stolen, etc – by Five For Fighting’s “Superman (It’s Not Easy).”

I like Kate’s description of her metamorphosis on the subject – how she used to get angry when hearing the two songs, but has transitioned to thinking that maybe FFF  (the group, not a type of battery) did not steal from AA (the artist, not the type of battery).

(I happen to have a better, for our comparative purposes, studio recording of Angie Aparo’s song and listened carefully to both Aparo versions and the one FFF version.)

It is easy to hear the VERY STRONG similarity between the songs in the sections she describes.  They are very similar with respect to melody, and the “shared” melody is virtually identical.  (“Virtually” is one loaded word.  I’ll get into “loaded words” – I never wrote “loaded words” before just now – in a later blog post.)

This post is long enough. I think I’ll post my answer tomorrow.  For anyone reading, please post your answers today.

Does that seem like a good idea – to listen to both songs and decide whether Five For Fighting’s song infringes Angie Aparo’s song?  Want to play?  You should.  It’s only play, and if you’re an adult reading this, you likely don’t play enough.

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