[HAMMOND] – The crowd jeered at the end of Joseph Burns’ copyright lecture.
They were not criticizing him, but rather were agreeing that Pharrell Williams’ song “Happy” seems to infringe on the copyright of Marvin Gaye’s “Ain’t That Peculiar” after hearing the songs played over each other.
The audience’s gasp rang through Pottle Hall at Southeastern on Oct. 21. Burns had to decrease the speed of one song and increase the speed of the other, but the crowd found the similarity undeniable.
Bill Robison puts on the Then and Now lecture series every year as part of Southeastern’s Fanfare. Burns programmed his lecture visually in HTML5, demonstrating his personal control of the music and of the mouse. He has programmed professionally and has written books on it.
Current student Sam Batson said the best part of the lecture was when Burns compared the infringements between two songs. He attended the lecture for extra credit but was very drawn by Burn’s energy and passion for his field.
Burns said, “I do music.” He is a musician himself, who plays seven instruments.
Batson said it was cool to see his professor jam out with his introductory guitar playing.
Burns finished his lecture with a bang. He used his signature closing line, “Thank you for coming and listening to my crack pot theories.”
While this year he did copyright laws, Burns plans big changes in the upcoming spring. He said one idea was to record and master an entire song in 50 minutes. Another idea he was weighing was giving the history of instruments while building a band that would come together and play when he introduced the microphone as the last piece of equipment.