Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

  • Author: Gary Rosen

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Plagiarized or original: A playlist for the contested music of Ira B. Arnstein

From the 1920s to the 1950s, Ira B. Arnstein was the unrivaled king of music copyright litigants. He spent the better part of those 30 years trying to prove that many of the biggest hits of the Golden Age of American Popular Song were plagiarized from his turn-of-the-century parlor piano pieces and Yiddish songs. “I suppose we have to take the bad with the good in our system which gives everyone their day in court,” Irving Berlin once said, but “Arnstein is stretching his day into a lifetime.”

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