Would You Want William Hung+ as Your Trier of Fact? The Case for a Specialized Musicology Tribunal

Would You Want William Hung+ as Your Trier of Fact? The Case for a Specialized Musicology Tribunal

By Eric M. Leventhal

+ The author is not blind to the possibility that this reference will be dated before it has even been made. (Indeed, that would be both appropriate and ideal.) William Hung is the Chinese-American University of California, Berkeley civil-engineering student whose off-key rendition of Ricky Martin's "She Bangs" during the third season of American Idol made him a household name. He has since parlayed the "fame" (or perhaps his particular phenomenon would more appropriately be described as infamy) into numerous television, film, and concert appearances, and even a record deal with Koch Entertainment. Biography Page, WilliamHung.net, http://www.williamhung.net/bio.html. 

Excerpt from Would You Want William Hung as Your Trier of Fact? The Case for a Specialized Musicology Tribunal, 90 Tex. L. Rev. 1557 (May 2012)

I. Introduction
Few analyses of copyright law do not begin with the premise of constitutional mandate as espoused in Article I, Section Eight of the United States Constitution. Never punk enough to rebel, this author will capitulate. Congress is explicitly granted the power to "promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries." 1 The English Statute of Anne, widely revered as the foundation of modern copyright law, was billed as "an Act for the Encouragement of Learning, by Vesting the Copies of Printed Books in the Authors or Purchasers of such Copies, during the Times therein mentioned." 2The bridge from providing remuneration for the bookmakers' "very great Detriment ... too often to the Ruin of them and their Families" 3 to the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act's (CTEA) addition of twenty years of protection 4 to the arguably eternal duration of copyright 5 seems anything but logical. Surely, some would explain away these different approaches as the inevitable result of technological innovation. Such a construction, while truthful to a fault, belies an integral fallacy of perspective. The Statute of Anne was structured "for the Encouragement of Learned Men to Compose and Write" and to reverse the "Ruin of [Authors or Proprietors] and their Families." 6 By contrast, the CTEA worked to prolong existing financial enterprises. 7 Somewhere along the way, the statutory motives for enacting copyright legislation moved dramatically ....

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