The George Washington University Law School has become the new home of the Music Copyright Infringement Resource (MCIR). MCIR offers free online access to information about all music copyright infringement cases litigated in the United States since the first dispute in 1844. Over 200 cases are documented in a variety of media, including text, sheet music, audio, and video recordings. For over a decade, MCIR has been widely used and cited by academics, practitioners, journalists, and others working in the entertainment and media sectors.
MCIR was established by Charles Cronin, a lawyer and musician in Los Angeles, who will oversee development and increasingly distributed authorship of the project as a Visiting Scholar at GW Law. Mr. Cronin began work on the project when researching a high-profile dispute in the 1980s involving the Bee Gees. “Reviewing prior case law dealing with music copyright infringement, I realized how difficult it was to form an opinion as to the merits of the claims without seeing and/or hearing the disputed works,” he explained. Mr. Cronin then began tracking down sheet music and recordings of works at issue in these disputes. “All this information is now freely available online,” he added. Mr. Cronin hopes the resource will help readers consider these disputes with a more critical eye and ear.
The project is sponsored by GW Law’s Intellectual Property Law Program and its Jacob Burns Law Library and compliments the law school’s existing strengths in copyright and entertainment law. GW Law became involved with the MCIR after Robert Brauneis, Professor of Law and Co-Director of the Intellectual Property Program, learned that Mr. Cronin might be interested in finding a new institutional home for the project. “I have used the website myself on many occasions and found it to be really helpful,” he said. After conversations between Professor Brauneis and Mr. Cronin, GW Law became the MCIR’s new home.
Professor Brauneis describes the MCIR as “a unique resource” because it covers not only music copyright cases that resulted in published opinions, but also cases that were filed and then settled. Students and faculty can use the new resource to enhance courses that touch on music copyright, including Copyright Law, Intellectual Property Law, and International Copyright Law. GW Law students are working with Mr. Cronin and Professor Brauneis as research assistants to maintain and expand the website on current music copyright issues.
Plans to expand the scope of the MCIR at the law school include broadening its coverage of music copyright infringement disputes litigated outside the US and developing a forum for discussion of topics and viewpoints relating to current litigation and legislation involving copyright and music.