What if Samsung Was a Band?

by Ben Bajarin   |   August 28th, 2012

I’ve been reading a lot of articles the last few days all on the degree in which Apple’s success in a US court over Samsung is good or bad for the industry. In the midst of all of what I am reading I feel a significant point is being missed. There is already an industry that forces and rewards originality. The music industry.

If we were to put our thinking caps on and objectively look at the situation I would think that IP law, specifically around this case, is similar to copyright law.

If we started a band today and recorded a song using some degree of lyrics, beats, rhythm, etc., from the current number one hit on the radio we would be sued out of existence. We could of course cover the song or use parts of the copyrighted content but we would have to pay the original author.

The music industry forces original work and in fact rewards originality. This is not to say that artists can not be influenced by another band, artist, song writer, etc., but they must create their own original work.

This forcing of originality in the creative arts is what makes it exciting. Not everyone succeeds but if it was all the same it would be extremely boring. It is the emphasis on originality that makes the music industry diverse and exciting.

I’m sure there are flaws in this analogy, as there are in nearly every analogy, but the point remains that Copyright law exists to promote originality. We should look at IP and Patent law the same way.

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Ben Bajarin

Ben Bajarin is a Principal Analyst at Creative Strategies, Inc - An industry analysis, market intelligence and research firm located in Silicon Valley. His primary focus is consumer technology and market trend research. He is a husband, father, gadget enthusiast, trend spotter, early adopter and hobby farmer. Full Bio
  • steve_wildstrom

    So Apple is The Beatles, Google is The Kinks, and Samsung is a Herman’s Hermits tribute band,

  • http://www.facebook.com/msaleem Muhammad Saleem
  • Mattie33

    Sorry, but this has to be the worst analogy (and description of how the players fit in it) ever in my opinion. I don’t like this analogy but nevertheless I will give my take on how the players fit. What Apple did at the most was creating a new genre and Google created a similar genre yet different ( think heavy metal compared to regular metal or something) with Android. Apple and the Android manufacturer are creating a variety of songs (some sound similar) but they are different enough to still be popular. Also Apple is patenting obvious inventions which is like patenting distorting your voice in any music (or the sound of instrument or other ) and is patenting things with previous examples which is like saying that a no name’s band sound/genre is theirs and anything similar will be sued!

    • Grwisher

      Regarding: “Also Apple is patenting obvious inventions”

      When the iPhone debuted, it was widely criticized for having no buttons/keys. Now people think the iPhone’s design is “obvious.” source Dan Frakes

      • mhikl

        Doesn’t it get tiring educating the closed mind, Grwisher. The same few fake fantasies, repeated over and over again until the myths confirm the minds of the made up.

        The music analogy is very good, actually. Cover bands do not make it to the top and add little to the industry.

  • Rich

    Ben, I agree with your statement that the music industry (or actually the public) definitely rewards originality. Then again a lot of people still love a band that hasn’t created any original music for 42 years: the Beatles. Also there are successful radio stations that play “Stairway to Heaven” or “Rocket Man” for the billionth time.

    But if copyright law is different from IP and patent law (and I’m thinking it’s likely it is), there’s probably a reason. Also, the last sentence in the post by Mattie33 seems to suggest a real danger if we were able to treat patents like copyrights.

  • FalKirk

    “Sorry, but this has to be the worst analogy” – Mattie33

    Respectfully disagree. I thought it was a great analogy.

    Great work, as always, Ben. Keep it up.

  • Grwisher

    Great analogy.

  • pawhite524

    Your piece adds some sanity to try to understand a very abstract concept- intellectual property.
    An analogy I was trying to put together for this situation has to do with mineral rights- everyone can use the property but Apple bought the “mineral rights. Bah! I like yours better!

  • jfutral

    Similarly, the music industry has had its issues, too. Such as George Harrison’s “My Sweet Lord” vs The Chiffon’s “He’s so fine”, as well as George Harrison’s “Something” vs James Taylor’s “Something in the way she moves”. At this level I find the analogy similar more to Apple/iOS v Google/Android. For more iPhone/iPad v Samsung, I would think of it more as a band playing the Beatle’s songs as if they were their own, maybe changing a word or two or adding an extra verse.

    At least in the music industry there are mechanisms in place for bands who want to play cover tunes to compensate the original artists. For instance most music venues and bars have to pay money to ASCAP or BMI or some other such association. Maybe we should do something similar and impose fees on carriers. boy would that be a mess!

    Joe

  • http://twitter.com/GarretRaziel Garret Raziel

    If Samsung was a band, they would be Led Zeppelin.