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Suppose a group of people share small segments of a copyrighted work in a chat room. If the song "Amazing Grace" were still under copyright, it could go something like this:

<A> Amazing grace...
<B> ...how sweet...
<C> ...the sound...
<D> ...that saved...
[and so on]
<Y> ...but now...
<Z> ...I see.

If each line is sent by a different person, have they collectively infringed copyright? They are deliberately posting a copyrighted song; they are not independently writing a song that happens to be the same as an existing one.

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  • Did they each create their snippets without having been previously exposed to the original? Oct 10, 2023 at 16:14
  • @GeorgeWhite no, they're deliberately basing it on the original.
    – Someone
    Oct 10, 2023 at 19:09

1 Answer 1

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The gang has infringed copyright. The court-made de minimis doctrine would not be applicable here since the amount copied is the entire work, not a trivial amount. In no case has the doctrine been applied to immunize conspirators who serially copy a work against liability for infringement.

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  • My question would be how did they become a gang? If the above exchange occurred spontaneously among people who had not previous interacted would that still be a gang?
    – User65535
    Oct 26, 2023 at 7:18
  • @User65535 they became a conspiracy to commit copyright by agreeing, as the first person started the song, to continue and sing it in total.
    – Trish
    Oct 26, 2023 at 8:35

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