Does anyone know anything about sound alike songs?

I’m trying to figure out if an original arrangement of a public domain song with one bar of similar melody to a cover of the same song violates copyright

long story short, I was in charge of a Christmas cd project, we chose public domain hymns to record so we wouldn’t have to deal with copyright problems

the song that I played on piano has many covers, I listened to some to see what arrangements people had already made, mainly to get some ideas and also to make sure I was being different.

anyways there was one bar in one version that I liked the chord progression of, so I used it but changed it from left hand to right and also switched keys and octaves to give it some variety.

but i just listened to both versions and I’m worried that it still sounds too similar. the cd has been made for a while now and many copies have been sold, so I’m worried that I unknowingly copied a piece of someone else’s work

it’s just that one bar of the song, the rest is completely different

I can’t remember exactly but I think at the time, I didn’t know that a cover of a public domain song had its own copyright

any thoughts would be appreciated.

If the song is old enough to be in the “public domain” then there is no copywright to deal with. Its all fair game then.

I think that CAF is probably not the place to be asking for legal advice.

Was this a CD for a church or charity, or was it for profit? If the former, you are probably not in any trouble. In any case, it is now too late to do much about it.

it was for a non-profit organization, so yes a charity. but it is being sold

apparently you can’t copyright chord progressins though, so I’m not sure if it even counts. we were worried about infringing and even called socan to make sure and only used from public domain. it just never occurred to me that arrangements of public songs wer copyrighted, until I read it somewhere later. I mean, it makes sense, I just never thought of it

but it’s literally one line of chords

it’s not really about being “in trouble”. I’m more worried about sin

Copying chord progressions for different uses, and then redoing them in various ways, is how traditional music of all styles has traditionally worked. It’s not wrong.

Your scruples are acting up.
Public domain songs are open to personal performance.

no,i know.

I’m just worried that the chords I used sound too much like the arrangement I heard them in. an arrangement that would be copyrighted because it was someone’s original work

but it’s perfectly possible that I’m overthinking

Musicians use most every chord daily. Those are the tools of the trade. Overthinking, yes.
Listen, “Here I Am, Lord” has the exact same chord progression and melody as the theme from the Brady Bunch in the refrain. 30 years later, congregations (sadly) are still singing it. That composer is still composing and selling music.

I guess the one I used is more unique though.

as in, the chords sort of make up the melody as well. I don’t think it was actually meant ot be the actualy melody. and I don’t know fi the changes I made were enough.

but it totally wasn’t intentional copying, I just didn’t know that arrangements had their own copyright. not that ignorance of something is really an excuse

it’s fine. The example I gave is the same way. It’s fine.

the person who wrote here I am lord, may not have known his song was similar to the brady bunch though.

where as I did know where my chord/melody came from and I used it on purpose, thinking it was ok and I was allowed to do so.

in retrospect, it mmakes sense that an arrangement of a public domain song by someone has its own copyright, it just never occurred to me at the time

but let’s say I technically infringed, the cd is with the charity now, who knows how many copies have been sold. I don’t think I could possibly make restitution for it

also, I looked up your examples. they don’t sound the same at all.

unless we’re thinking about different songs…

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