Sean O’Connor, noted innovation law scholar, is a Professor of Law and Faculty Director of the Center for Intellectual Property x Innovation Policy (C-IP2) at George Mason University, Antonin Scalia Law School. He was previously Boeing International Professor of Law at the University of Washington School of Law in Seattle. His research focuses on intellectual property and business law with regard to start-ups and commercializing technology and arts innovation. His teaching and law practice specialize in transactions and the strategic role of the general counsel. Professor O’Connor received his law degree from Stanford Law School, a master’s degree in philosophy from Arizona State University, and a bachelor’s degree in history from University of Massachusetts. He is currently completing a book, The Means of Innovation: Creation, Control, Method+ology, and serving as Editor for a new Handbook of Music Law & Policy, both to be published by Oxford University Press.
Some IP commentators love to hate the Blurred Lines music copyright decision. A primary critique has stoked unnecessary fear in musicians that the decision blurs the line between protectable expression and unprotectable style or genre. Much of the animosity, however, is based on misunderstanding or misconstruing the law or facts. This post clarifies this aspect of the case to show why the district court decision was reasonable and should be affirmed in the current appeal at the Ninth Circuit.