Musical Covers Consultations
♦ We are offering new specialized consultation services regarding covers of prior musical works
♦ Ideal for independent artists, ad agencies, studios, music supervisors, and music production businesses
♦ Reduced fees for content creators and commissioners struggling during COVID-19
Ask a Musicologist
We are eager to support you by addressing your musical questions and concerns!
Ask us anything you wish. If your question requires a more complex response, we will recommend a phone conversation. Sample topics:
- Music copyright infringement dispute concerns
- Licensing music
- Music arrangements
- Music career strategies
- Dealing with creating a sound-alike
- Creating a musical parody
- Collaborating on musical works
- Music industry practices
These informal communications are provided as a service at no charge, and are offered as music industry guidance. We are musicologists and music industry experts, and not attorneys. Visit this page to submit your question .
- Copyright Infringement Matters 
- Services for Law Firms 
- Services for Advertising Agencies · Film, Television, Media, and Entertainment Companies · and the Music Industry 
- Rights Administration for Composers and Catalogs 
- Lectures, Presentations, Workshops on Risk Avoidance for Music Copyright Issues 
- Advantages of Our Service 
Copyright Infringement Matters
At Judith Finell MusicServices, musicologist Judith Finell provides expert testimony and consulting services in copyright infringement matters. Our firm provides musical analyses and comparisons, case assessments, evaluations, and research when potential or asserted legal disputes arise. Attorneys and their clients request our opinions on the similarities and differences between two musical works, for example, when there is a concern that one may have copied from the other. In addition, we often advise on preventing copyright infringement issues from arising by reviewing and consulting on music pre-release. We also investigate prior art and the copyright status of works. Immediate telephone consultations are provided, when urgently needed, as well as highly detailed, written analyses and research reports. Law firms, advertising agencies, entertainment and media companies, technology and gaming companies, as well as music industry leaders throughout the U.S. and abroad consult with us.
Services for Law FirmsCase Assessments and Musical Comparisons
Attorneys and their clients often ask us to assess potential or ongoing cases and to evaluate their potential for success. We also write detailed reports and provide immediate evaluations as to the degree of similarity between musical works at issue. Comparisons include all elements of a musical composition: melody, harmony, rhythm, lyrics, instrumentation, style, structure, meter, and key. Attorneys find this helpful in evaluating a potential or asserted copyright infringement claim on behalf of a copyright proprietor or alleged infringer.
Judith Finell testifies as an expert witness and often prepares visual exhibits, including charts and illustrations as well as audio examples, using state-of-the-art technology. All exhibits are carefully designed to enhance the understanding of lay listeners, such as judges and juries. Judith Finell often illustrates her testimony by demonstrating live on a musical keyboard and other instruments.
Clients in the legal, advertising, and entertainment fields often ask us to evaluate a particular musical work – either a new composition or a licensed one – for an evaluation of potential risk of copyright infringement prior to release or broadcast. We carefully screen the musical work for possible vulnerabilities, either in terms of originality issues or potential challenges by the owner of a pre-existing work. After a careful review, if we determine that there is a risk, we often suggest musical changes and strategies that will reduce the danger substantially, while maintaining the desired emotional impact and genre designed to reach the target demographic. We also screen re-recordings for potential sound-alike issues.
When needed, we investigate prior art with encyclopedic comprehensiveness. This process can support a defendant’s position. When necessary, we review prior musical works from as early as the 15th century through the present day to identify public domain and pre-existing musical compositions.
We have extensive professional experience in working with music collections including rare manuscripts. We have consulted on the collections at the American Music Center (Charles Ives, Aaron Copland, Samuel Barber, Stephen Sondheim), The Juilliard School, and others. Judith Finell studied music librarianship and cataloging with Dr. Vincent Duckles (University of California, Berkeley), the professionally recognized leader in the field who wrote the established treatise on music research and reference materials. Members of our team have developed data bases and have written numerous catalogs, discographies, and music collection descriptions for music publishers, composers, collectors, and music libraries. Our team members have won numerous prestigious awards for their music research and scholarship. We can provide a professional opinion as to whether an edition is an original, a copy in the composer’s hand, and so forth. This often proves useful for an estate appraisal.
Services for Advertising Agencies · Film, Television, Media, and Entertainment Companies · and the Music Industry
Prior to the release of a film, television show, or advertisement, we often consult regarding possible music copyright infringement issues that may arise. Our years of experience in advising film and television studios, film makers, and advertising agencies on the music they are using enables us to guide them regarding issues that arise when “temp” tracks have influenced cues intended to resemble them, or in the case of failed licensing attempts and re-recordings. We also provide music supervision services and consult on obtaining music licenses and clearances.Music Screenings for Infringement Risks
We screen and evaluate music before and after it is released when copyright infringement concerns are at issue. This can help to avoid the infringement of others’ rights. We often provide detailed analyses of the similarities and differences between our clients’ music and pre-existing works, and our opinion as to whether they are so closely related as to pose a copyright infringement risk. When appropriate, we recommend revisions and strategies that will maintain the desired mood, yet avoid a dispute with the proprietors of the earlier work.
When deadlines are an issue, we provide immediate assessments and recommendations on music cues and sound tracks. We give top priority to urgent requests.
We assist in obtaining licenses and in investigating and identifying the rights holders of musical works. If licensing is denied, we often recommend alternative musical works similar in their emotional impact and genre to the initially desired work.
Digital sampling is now widely used within the recording industry. Current litigation often focuses on this practice. We screen recordings suspected of containing digital samples with the leading technological tools.
We investigate the origins of musical compositions and identify their earliest editions for determination of public domain status. If a work is not in the public domain, we provide information on its rights holders.
Rights Administration for Composers and Catalogs
We represent composers and musical catalogs, provide administration and rights/permission management services, and consult on these areas with estates, libraries, and music publishers.
Lectures, Presentations, Workshops on Risk Avoidance for Music Copyright Issues
Judith Finell guest lectures at leading universities and law schools, before professional organizations for attorneys, advertising and copyright practitioners, and at intellectual property conferences. Her key topics include music and copyright, music technology, forensic techniques, licensing, litigation, and new developments within the field. Attorneys attending her lectures usually obtain CLE credit.
Advantages of our Service
Trust, Caution, and Precision
We exercise extreme caution – without exception – regarding the accuracy, reliability, and integrity of our work. While consistently meeting our clients’ urgent deadlines, we conduct meticulous fact and accuracy checks in order to ensure our veracity. All matters and inquiries are handled with complete confidentiality and respect for our clients’ privacy.
Due to the pressure of deadlines, court dates, and broadcast schedules, we can provide immediate answers to urgent questions. Within the same day that we are asked, a brief answer can be given – with a more detailed report to follow, when needed.
We are located in the New York City area and Los Angeles, and meet with clients in their offices. We send our reports via messenger, overnight mail, or email throughout the U.S. and abroad. Judith Finell also travels frequently to key cities to give lectures and meet with our clients.