Forensic musicologist is now a job description. I am seeing a mashup of Quincy and my old music history professor…yikes.
Now lawyers hover over new records, listening for any legally actionable borrowing. Such cases are usually settled out of court — for undisclosed, but often enormous, sums. The most remarkable thing about the “Ready to Die” case is that it ever got to trial.
More interesting than the legal-sideshow aspect, I think, is the question of how artists deal with the situation. Imitation, allusion, parody, borrowing stray bits of melody or texture — all of this is fundamental to creativity. The line between mimicry and transformation is not absolute. And the range of electronic tools now available to musicians makes it blurrier all the time.